Copyright TNO 2011
The Dutch are well known for their ubiquitous bike lanes, to the point where Amsterdam is neck and neck with Copenhagen for the title of most bike-loving capital in Europe. Now, Denmark will have to come up with something big to match the latest plan from the Netherlands - the installation of solar panels in roads, starting with bike lanes.Talk about the efficient use of space: if you're going to have roads (and hopefully you'll have bike lanes), why not put that space to work producing energy? Called the Solaroad, the project is the brainchild of Dutch research firm TNO. The idea is pretty straightforward: a layer of concrete forms the road itself. A centimeter thick layer of crystalline silicon solar cells is laid on top, and covered by a layer of toughened glass. The energy potential: 50kWh per square meter per year, which can then be used to power street lighting, traffic systems and households.
But it's still an idea in development, which is why TNO, working with the Province of North Holland, the consulting firm Ooms Averhorn Group and the tech firm Intech, is starting with a small-scale pilot program in the town of Krommenie, outside of Amsterdam. Scheduled for installation next year, the first Solaroad will hopefully allow its developers better implement many more throughout the country.
Maybe it'll even make it to the US one day- though in today's political climate, this probably costly project is unlikely to get much support in Congress. Well, we can dream.
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