Solar Roads: Ever hear of them?

When we think of solar energy the first thing that usually comes to our minds would be either solar roof panels or solar powered calculators!  Solar panel roads have been getting a lot of attention in recent years as the industry moves to perfect the technology for our everyday lives.  

Projects Around the World

  • The United States – Solar companies such as Solar Roadways are currently working on experiments within the United States to perfect solar roads.  Solar Roadway is trying to develop solar roads that are not only successful in creating renewable solar energy but practical as well – which it has not been successful in achieving yet.  Each square foot of solar technology costs $450 USD, which many investors find extremely unreasonable.
  • France – France was able to secure the achievement of developing the “World’s first solar road” in 2014 in the village of Tourouvre au Perche in Normandy!  The goal of the road was to bring all of the village’s street lights off of the traditional power grid – and switch to solar powered roads.  Similar to the United States, they face the issue of affordability as they struggle to convince investors that these roads are practical.
  • The Netherlands – If you know anything about the Netherlands it wouldn’t surprise you that the Netherlands is experimenting with a solar bike lane!  SolaRoad, the solar project, taught the importance of durable materials for every solar road engineer as the top layer of material wore away within the first year of installing the roads.  This road has been criticized however due to the fact that 520,000 kilowatts of electricity could have been purchased with the amount of money spent on the road – which only produced 3,000 kilowatts in one year.
  • China – The country that is best known for its innovative and insane projects, China opened a one kilometer (0.6 miles) long solar road.  China reported similar issues as they struggled to create a cost-efficient plan that produced an appropriate amount of kilowatts for the amount of money invested in the project.

The common issue of affordability that each country suffers from may be the reason why you have never heard of solar roads.  The technology is relatively new, and the industry will definitely have to solve the issue of affordability in order to make solar roads practical enough to be in every city.  Until then, the chances of one coming to your city is unlikely. So it’s going to be awhile before we get to see solar path lights.