Finding better and safer forms of renewable energy has become the quest of many companies and countries around the world today. As more and more places look for cleaner energy alternatives than the use of fossil fuels, the many different possibilities that exist continue to arise. One of the most interesting utilizations that have come up in recent years is the creation and use of solar roads as a means of creating electricity. There has been a steady integration of the use of solar roads occurring all over the world as its viability has grown and the possibilities of its use get explored more all over.
What are Solar Roads?
Simply put, solar roads are roads that make use of solar panels placed into the roadway. Since roadways typically absorb a great deal of heat from the sun over the course of the day, the solar panels are built into the roadway and can then absorb all of this energy from the sun all day long. The energy can then be stored and fed back into the electricity grid of the area where the road is located. This energy can be more than enough to help power things like streetlights, traffic lights and other areas in a town or city and eventually the hope is that this energy could be incorporated into energy used in homes and businesses and perhaps even enough to power electrical cars that use that roadways.
Does it Work?
In testing that has been done in various places the models have been shown to be quite productive. There is a solar road in use in the Netherlands currently that is 70 meters long and is used as a bike roadway since many people in that country used bikes as their primary form of transportation. The roadway has proven to be very successful, generating much more power than was originally anticipated. There has also been testing done in areas in Idaho with success. While there are some solar panels that will need to be replaced because of wear to the area, generally the panels have held up quote well to regular use. The panels are protected by a transparent layer of skid-resistant glass that can easily support the weight of bikes and vehicles. While testing has only been done on a relatively small scale so far, the promise that this holds for future use is quite encouraging.
While there are still some concerns about the costs involved in creating and using solar roads, the initial expense that may be involved in making the solar roads may more than pay for itself over time if the yield of power and electricity from the roads can be significant enough to cover large areas. The potential certainly exists for this to be a very viable method of getting electricity without having to rely on the use of fossil fuels that can be damaging to the environment and the atmosphere and it has the possibility of completely revolutionizing the energy industry.