Is the Road to Renewables Paved with Solar?

Over a year ago, ambitious city leaders in Amsterdam decided to boldly experiment with a new technology. The plan: to retrofit bike paths with new pavement segments with embedded solar panels. The solar roads look and feel like a normal bike lane, but are build to generate clean energy. And despite the skepticism of critics, the solar roads have proved more successful than anticipated.

The bike paths were only the first phase in what city and government officials in the Netherlands hope can be expanded to replace many thousands of miles of roads throughout the country. The solar technology is able to capture energy even on cloudy days, and is able to feed into the greater electricity grid. The solar roads are also a durable investment— able to stand up to the wear and tear of normal highway conditions, and has an estimated lifespan of twenty years.

While still in its early stages, these new solar roads show that private innovation and collaboration with local governments can spur creative solutions to climate change. Sunny California has already developed plans to construct a version of the technology over the next decade. There is no single panacea to the climate crisis, but implementing cutting edge climate technologies at the local and state level can add up. Bold leadership by community, city, and state officials is needed for such innovation to take hold. Find out how your city can become a climate leader by joining Path to Positive Communities.

First Solar Road Surpasses Expectations

TriplePundit | November 13, 2015

The first aptly-titled SolaRoad made its debut last November in the Netherlands, not far from Amsterdam. The road itself is a unique foray in pollution-free solar energy. Nearly one year later, the SolaRoad’s designers say the high-tech bike path is performing better than they expected.

In the first six months since it was installed, the SolaRoad has generated over 3,000 kilowatt-hours — or roughly the equivalent required for a single-person household for one calendar year.

Experts reckon that up to 20 percent of the Netherlands’ roadways —140,000 kilometers or 87,000 miles — could accommodate the solar threading for a wider reach on a limitless solar draw.

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