Recently a customer asked us to look into the potential of using solar panels to pave his driveway. Being an inquisitive bunch, we decided to refresh our knowledge on Solar Roads, Bike Paths and Driveways. To support us, we reached out to Charlie Stewart, a Renewable And Flexible Energy Consultant based in Amsterdam.
Solar Roading A Simple Idea:
The idea is simple and incredibly exciting. Why not swap bitumen for Solar Photovoltaic Technology and let our global roading network power the world? After all, solar photovoltaic technology is getting cheaper, more efficient and more resilient all the time.
SolaRoad has tested bike lanes, car roads and heavy traffic with various pilot projects.
One of the most significant commercial efforts to pave roads with solar panels comes from Solar Roadways. The Solar Roadways system is based on durable hexagonal glass plates containing solar cells, electronics and LEDs.
But this project and all the other trials appear to be facing the same challenges.
Primary Challenges Of Solar Roads, and Pathways:
- When generating solar energy from a roading network, the production costs are significantly more expensive than solar power generated from a roof or solar farm.
- Roads tend to be flat – so energy production is lower than pitched-panels on roofs.
- Roads get dirty, which dramatically decreases energy production.
- Self-cleaning glass technology is available, but this makes roads slippery.
- Road engineering requires significant weight-bearing capabilities– the current test roads are degrading.
It appears globally we are still very much in the proof of concept stage.
This technology is not yet ready for commercialisation, as there remains considerable risk concerning technical and construction failures.
So what technology is available?
Probably the best bet to get your driveway to generate electricity are Solar Canopies. These use the same space as the driveway but lifts the solar above the road, which allows for system tilt and proper design to maximise production and eliminate risk from driving on it.
If this is of interest do reach out we would love to help
Special Thanks to Charlie Stewart, Ensights Consulting, a Renewable and Flexible Energy Consultant, linkedin.com/in/charliestewartensights