Back in December 2014, I shared a story about SolaRoad in the Netherlands, the world’s first solar road, which is an energy-harvesting bike path. Two years later, the engineers say the system is working even better than expected! More recently, the Missouri Department of Transportation has unveiled plans to install smart highways that create energy with solar panels in the roadways. The plan is to replace the aging interstate system in a way that meets the needs of the future rather than following the designs of the past by creating renewable energy not just on roadways, but also in parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, tarmacs, plazas, bike paths, playgrounds and garden paths.
The department may be working with Solar Roadways of Sandpoint, Idaho, which develops solar panels that can be driven on, even as heavy as 12-ton fire trucks. The act of driving on them creates energy, and each individual panel is connected to smart meters, which optimize their output and feed their electricity straight into street lighting, or the grid.
The potential is pretty huge. Not only could the roads generate enough electricity to power local households, but they can also provide some amazing lighting opportunities.
Last year a solar road was installed in the Netherlands by design lab Studio Roosegaarde, which sucked up the Sun’s energy during the day and then guided cyclists at night using beautiful Vincent Van Gogh ‘Starry Starry Night- inspired LED lights.
SolaRoad is now working with local councils around the Netherlands to try to roll the technology out in other provinces. A similar agreement has also been signed with California in the US.
Bring on the future!