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This ordinary-looking bicycle path in Amsterdam is anything but.
SolaRoad is the world’s first public cycle path that generates electricity.
And in a bike-mad city like Amsterdam, it’s the perfect marriage of practicality and ingenuity.
Perhaps even more remarkable, though, is the declaration from Dutch Finance Minister, Henk Kamp – that the 70-meter path “isn’t economically feasible.”
Sometimes, however, the best ideas don’t always make money at first. And Kamp boldly states, “But we will make it economically feasible… we’re working on it very hard.”
Indeed, the plan is an ambitious one…
Lighting up Dutch Roads
The SolaRoad consists of rows of miniscule crystalline silicon solar cells that are covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass and encased in concrete.
SolaRoad co-inventor, Sten di Wit, explains the craft behind the technology: “The top layer is the main innovation of this road, because it has to combine a number of functions: It has to be transparent, because the sunlight has to go through to the solar cells underneath, but it also has to be sufficiently skid-resistant, sufficiently rough.”
Now, due to the path’s location (which isn’t perfectly in sync with the sun’s position), it produces 30% less energy than solar roof panels. However, di Wit considers the path a step in the right direction.
Indeed, he says the technology could be incorporated into one-fifth of Dutch roads.
The ultimate goal is to harness the solar energy from the bike path, and use it to power traffic lights and electric cars within five years.
In fact, assuming this trial proves successful, di Wit and his colleagues believe they’ll have a commercially viable idea for a renewable energy-based sustainable mobility system.
Tech Research Team