Solar Panel Path Gets a Sunny Start


KROMMENIE, THE NETHERLANDS—A pioneering energy-harvesting road is reaping better-than-expected power yields for its Dutch developers, the team says.

The 70-meter-long route, called SolaRoad, is the first electricity-generating road of its kind, its developers say. Essentially, the road surface acts as a solar panel.

More than 150,000 cyclists have traveled the North Holland path since it opened in November, producing an energy yield "beyond expectation," the team reports.

"We did not expect a yield as high as this so quickly," said Sten de Wit, SolaRoad spokesman and a senior advisor at engineering firm TNO, one of the project principals.

A "golden triangle" of industry, research institutions and government has been collaborating on SolaRoad since 2009. Other partners are the Province of Noord-Holland (North Holland), Ooms Civiel and Imtech.

'Upper Limit' Prediction

De Wit says the road has generated more than 3,000 kWh since it opened. "This can provide a single-person household with electricity for a year, or power an electric scooter to drive 2.5 times around the world," he said.

Annualized, de Wit said, "we expect more than the 70 KWh per square meter per year, which we predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage."


TNO innovator Sten de Wit says the project is supported by a collaborative "golden triangle" of industry, research and government institutions. TNO is a principal partner.

The test road consists of concrete modules 2.5 to 3.5 meters long with a top layer of tempered glass. 

In one lane, solar cells are fitted under a tempered glass about one centimeter thick and covered by a transparent, skid-resistant coating. No solar cells are embedded in the other lane, which is used to test various coatings.

Solar power from the road is fed into the electricity grid, where it can be used for street lights, traffic systems and households. One day, it may power electric cars that drive over it, the company said.

Delaminated Coatings

SolaRoad is in a three-year pilot that will include measurements and testing to inform future developments.

solar road

A small section of coatings delaminated on two occasions. An improved top layer is in development.

One goal of the field test is to detect and fix any early stage issues. For example, a small section of coating on the road delaminated at the end of December and early in the spring. Research has shown that large temperature fluctuations can cause local delamination due to shrinkage in the coating, the company said.

Repairs were made, and the development of an improved top layer is in an advanced stage.

The team is also constantly pursuing innovations in surface materials and solar panels.

Discussions about additional pilots are taking place with other provinces in the Netherlands, according to the company.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Energy efficiency; Roads/Highways; Site/field testing; Solar; Solar energy; Testing + Evaluation

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