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.
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.