Background of the Solar Cell Road Project
Back in November 2014, Netherlands constructed the world’s first road made out of solar cells. The country known for its cycling culture, is staying true to its message by building a solar cell road for bikes (not cars). The length of the bike lane for the solar cell road is protected by two layers of safety glass protecting the solar cells underneath which has enough potential to power about three Dutch houses.
Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research and the Dutch province of North Holland introduced the 230 foot portion of the project dubbed as “SolaRoad”. While it doesn’t look a lot, the solar cell road is actually a testing ground for futher testing the technology on small roadways and more bike lanes.
SolaRoad as a Testing Ground for Future RE Roads
In the next few years, researchers will be testing and measuring how much energy the solar cell road produces and how it’s holding up to the influx of bikers. Should the solar cell road work well, the researchers were also hoping to extend the SolaRoad to 328 feet by 2016.
The Solar Cell Road Today
Fast forward to May 2015, the solar cell road is a huge success! During the first half year of the solar cell road, the technology is found to be performing better than expected.
According to Al-Jazeera America, the solar cell road has produced more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours of energy (that’s enough to power a single small household for a year).
Stan De Wit, the spokesman for the solar cell road project states that they predicted the solar cell road project as an upper limit in the experimental stage and after the first six months, can therefore conclude that the solar cell road project is a success. The spokesperson further mentions that they did not expect the solar cell road project to produce high amounts of energy so quickly.
So far, about more than 100, 000 bikers have passed on the road. Arian de Bondt, director of Ooms Civiel, one of the companies involved on the project, mentions that the developers are working on developing the panels for the solar cell road project that could withstand large vehicles including passenger busses.
While the solar cell road project is working smoothly, producing solar power from a solar array located on a house or field is still much more effective compared to the energy the solar cell road produces. This is due to the fact that the panels in the solar cell road cannot be tilted to harness energy from the sun optimally. Hence, the solar cell road does not harvest as much sunlight as panels do on an array. On the other hand, solar cell roads do not take up as much space as solar panels do on a house or field – a benefit for installing in very populated areas.
Would the solar road project be a good application for the Philippines?
Let’s take into account the density and characteristic of the population, the location of the installment and other external factors.
With the approval of the Renewable Energy bill and increasing support of the solar power technology in the Philippines, the Philippine government welcomes the idea of self-sustaining and renewable energy sources. The upcoming elections also makes the project attractive for potential candidates.
Power demands and prices are set to increase making renewable energy sources much needed.
Solar power is gaining a lot of acceptance and attention.
Because of the continuous development and demand, the prices of solar power technology continues to be more affordable while the product becomes more available.
(Image from: SolaRoad)