Imagine that roads all over the world will supply power to homes, streetlights, traffic lights, and even the vehicles on the roads. With SolaRoad, this is possible.
This is the road of the future and the road to the future.
In 2009, The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) posed an open invitation: ‘Dream it and join in’. The Province of Noord-Holland, road construction company Ooms Civiel and technical service provider Imtech accepted the invitation and, together with TNO, now form the core consortium that is developing SolaRoad: the world’s first road surface that absorbs sunlight and converts it into electricity.
Innovator Sten de Wit from TNO: “This could be a breakthrough in the field of sustainable energy supply. In particular, if the road concept will develop into a system, with which the generated electricity is transported to the vehicles driving on the road. Try to imagine that power will then be generated at the place where it is needed. Subsequently, a big step towards an energy-neutral mobility system will be possible.”
SolaRoad is being developed in stages. The first milestone is the SolaRoad cycle path near Krommenie.
SolaRoad is being developed as prefabricated slabs. It consists of concrete modules of 2.5 by 3.5 meters with a translucent top layer of tempered glass. Underneath the glass are crystalline silicon solar cells. The top layer immediately shows an important difference from the traditional road surface. It has to be translucent for sunlight and repel dirt as much as possible. At the same time, the top layer must be skid resistant and strong enough to be a safe road surface. This is one of the technical challenges of SolaRoad.
The energy yield of SolaRoad is beyond expectation. “We did not expect a yield as high as this so quickly.” Says Sten de Wit, spokesman of SolaRoad. “The bike road opened half a year ago and already generated over 3,000 kWh. This can provide a single-person household with electricity for a year, or power an electric scooter to drive of 2.5 times around the world. If we translate this to an annual yield, we expect more than the 70 kWh per square meter per year, which we predicted as an upper limit in the laboratory stage. We can therefore conclude that it was a successful first half year.”
TNO is an independent research organisation that focuses on transitions or changes in five social themes: Industry; Healthy Living; Defence, Safety & Security; Urbanisation and Energy.