Dutch get solar cycling path – let’s hope it’s the last

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A country that may have just passed the one gigawatt threshold for installed PV is now home to a new cycling path lined with solar panels.

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Renewables International

Remember solar roadways? Now, it seems that the town of Krommenie, just north of Amsterdam, has installed 70 meters of solar panels on a bike path to become, as the Guardian puts it, “the world’s first public road with embedded solar panels.” Here’s hoping it will be the last.

Take a look at the picture over at the Guardian, and you will see the project more or less finished. I hope that someone is going to go over those panels, however, and remove the dirt, which will otherwise dramatically reduce power production. Since the panels are also on the ground and will be ridden across by bicycles constantly, they will probably need to be cleaned several times daily.

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Source: BBC

The article itself says that simply lying them flat rather than at an optimal orientation (of around 30 degrees, which the article does not say) means that the panels produce “roughly 30 percent less energy.” I’m going to guess that the dirt, tempered glass (to give the path a decent surface for bicycle tires – see this image), and shading reduce power production far more, probably by something closer to 100 percent (meaning >65 percent, if you follow my math). Without the roughed up glass, people would probably be falling off their bikes quite frequently.

I cannot find any claims that the very small amount of electricity these panels will produce should be used to keep the roads ice free, but I’ve been to the Netherlands, and I can tell you one thing – the roads need roofs. Solar roofs. You could put up a solar roof over a bike path, provide protection from the rain (most of the year) and the Sun (a few days a year), and actually generate a decent amount of electricity. Cyclists would not shade the panels, not as much dirt would build up on the panels if they are three meters up, and you would have a much less expensive, safer bike path underneath.

The Dutch government just announced that nearly 800 megawatt said been installed at the end of September, with another report finding that the country had more than 1000 megawatts (data in Dutch). As it turns out, the Dutch don’t really have an accurate count of how much PV is in the country, mainly because they have not properly counted residential arrays. Here’s hoping the Netherlands soon realizes what a stupid idea putting solar under things is.

Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.

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8 Comments
  1. Gordon 4 years ago

    This does seem to be somewhat of a wasted effort. As you say in the article, at that latitude flat panels will produce well under their potential output. I also wonder just how slippery the glass will be when it is wet or frosty, I can’t imagine it will be ideal for safe cycling.

    A PV panel roof would have been a much better idea, and perhaps less expensive by the look of what they are laying in the included photo,

    Also, that row of trees right next to the path wont help with output!

  2. Jo 4 years ago

    I fully agree. I have always wondered what’s the point to put solar panels as road elements when there is so much roof space available or solar panels can be used as a roof to protect what’s underneath.

  3. Doug Cutler 4 years ago

    I don’t see solar roadways as a serious energy contributor. They may, however, have some niche uses and at least deserve some study.

  4. Bob_Wallace 4 years ago

    Let’s hope the numbers are made public. Looking at the pictures it appears that there’s some serious money going into this pathway. This is a lot more than just bolting down a rack and attaching some panels.

    Let’s see the cost per watt and the system efficiency.

    That should put an end to the solar roadway fantasy.

  5. john 4 years ago

    I can only agree with the author of the article not exactly a good idea to put into the path and above ground is logical god only know who had the idea but I do wish him/her well in his/her retirement.

  6. Miles Harding 4 years ago

    Let us look at this as the crazy inventor’s push to get a trial of their ‘game changing’ technology. The press is simply reporting the facts.

    I have seen a lot of products that should have never been carried past that initial drunken revelation, but instead have had a lot of time and money spent to conclusively prove they were duds. This trial does not speak well of the judgement of the proponents.

    I would much happier cycling underneath PV panels, where some protection from sun and rain may be had.

  7. Chatteris 4 years ago

    It’s an advert for solar, I suppose, albeit an expensive one.

  8. Rusdy Simano 4 years ago

    Interesting enough, the link image have another link to this ‘marvelous’ idea of walkable solar panel in 2013. Oh wait, it gets better, it has LED that ‘shining up through the panels from beneath’. tsk tsk…

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