from the shocking-turn-of-events dept.
Solar roads have plenty of potential problems, such as damage and snow, but theft? Apparently that's a concern, too. China's Qilu Evening News reported that thieves carved out a small (5.9in by 73in) portion of an experimental road in Jinan on January 2nd, a mere five days after its December 28th debut. While it's tempting to suggest this was an accident, officials said the missing segment was "neatly cut," and didn't appear to have come loose on its own.
The segment has since been repaired. An investigation is ongoing, but there aren't any identified culprits as of this writing.
Previously: Solar Generating Roads
Solar Roadway not Quite so Practical
SolaRoad Cycle Path Electricity Yield Exceeds Expectations
World's First Solar Panel Road Opens in Normandy Village
Georgia Tests New Solar Road
IFLScience has a blogvertisement for a company called Solar Roadways, which replaces the decades-old tarmac way of building roads which something far more useful. As well as incorporating a solar power collector, other features such as under-road heating to clear snow, LED lighting to light the way, trunking for stormwater and utilities, and the ability to find broken segments (potholes) instantly.
Obviously it will never work, but why not?
Several sites are running a story on the solar roadway installation in the Netherlands, including phys.org and IFLScience.
However over at EEV Blog is a thorough critical review by Dave Jones which runs through the numbers and finds it doesn't add up as a practical proposal. There's references to Dave's original review of an earlier proposal, for some background on the calculations.
From the associated forum posting:
Dave shows how to go about doing ballpark engineering feasibility calculations for such a project, calculates the expected payback period, and SPOILER, shows why Solar Roadways will never be a viable technology. This time using real measured data from the Netherlands cycleway prototype, and real measured solar insolation data for the Netherlands
Phys.org reports on a pilot project in the Netherlands to generate power from solar panels in a bike path that has so far exceeded expectations:
The first six months of the pilot phase were successful, according to a SolaRoad press release issued earlier this month. The energy yield was beyond their expectations. Spokesperson Sten de Wit said they were surprised to see the level of success so quickly. Case in point: "The bike road opened half a year ago and already generated over 3,000 kWh," he said. "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."
France has opened what it claims to be the world's first solar panel road in a Normandy village.
A 1km (0.6-mile) route in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche covered with 2,800 sq m of electricity-generating panels, was inaugurated on Thursday by the ecology minister, Ségolène Royal.
It cost €5m (£4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents.
Highways have never been the sexiest infrastructure projects, but Allie Kelly, the executive director of The Ray, believes that preconception will shift dramatically over the next few years due to rapid technological shifts. With politicians in Washington discussing the administration's ambitious infrastructure plans, now is the time to make investments in our transportation system. As far as Kelly is concerned, that vision should focus on achieving zero deaths, zero carbon, and zero waste. She hopes The Ray can serve as the laboratory where new ideas and revenue models are tried, tested, and proven possible.
"We're at a tipping point in transportation," says Kelly. "In five to ten years, we won't remember a time when we invested a dime in infrastructure spending for a road that only did one thing."
[...] Initially, the vision for The Ray was to add a solar installation in the median, along with a wildflower garden, to remind drivers about the environmental costs of the transportation system. But the results of the study suggested a more dramatic plan was needed. Since then, The Ray, in concert with the Georgia Department of Transportation, has slowly rolled out a number of new initiatives to improve both safety and sustainability. In 2015, a new electric charging station powered in part by photovoltaic panels, a joint project with funding from Kia Motors, became the first in the state.
This past year, the Ray added a strip of Wattway solar panels to an entrance ramp, and installed a WheelWright tire pressure sensor at a rest stop right next to the Alabama state line. The new British device helps drivers quickly test and maintain proper tire pressure, a leading cause of crashes.
Over the next year, the foundation plans to add more new tests that will help build out a more holistic roadway. A one megawatt solar installation will be installed in a right-of-way as part of a joint effort with Georgia Power to turn the highway into a place for power generation, and a series of bioswales—landscaped drainage ditches that naturally filter pollution—will turn the areas adjacent to the highway into more clean, sustainable, and natural landscapes.
"We're pushing the idea that these kind of installations can become widespread energy generation system for state departments of transportation," says Kelly. "Highways can eventually make money, and even serve as a power grid for the future."
Previous stories on solar roads and pathways:
Solar Generating Roads
SolaRoad Cycle Path Electricity Yield Exceeds Expectations