Fast Company's Adele Peters takes a closer look at a bike path that was paved with custom solar panels in Amsterdam last year, and reports it's generating higher amounts of power than initially predicted. The designers of SolaRoad cite the project as a potential case study for more networks of PV-panel-covered roads that could potentially become a viable and standardized energy source.
The prototype is pricey, and rooftop panels are more efficient and cheaper to construct in comparison. However, the team insists that roads could become valuable real-estate for solar energy once roofs start to fill up.
"Solar panels on rooftops are a no-brainer and fortunately the application is growing rapidly," says Sten de Wit from the SolaRoad consortium, adding that some cities are also experimenting with solar panels next to highways. "If we can additionally incorporate solar cells in road pavements, then a large extra area will become available for decentralized solar energy generation without the need for extra space ... and just part of the roads which we build and use anyway."