It seems that only in America is the idea of clean energy considered too costly.
The Netherlands is nearing completion of a solar bike path, turning 70 meters of pavement into a source of energy for road signs, street lights and traffic signals. At a cost of about 3 million Euros, the road is the first part of a project that hopes to see an extension to 100 meters by 2016.
For those of us who don‘t do metric conversions in our heads, 70 meters is about 229 feet, or 2/3rds of a football field. 3 million Euros is the equivalent of 3.74 million US Dollars.
The new path, called SolaRoad, is set to open next week and should see two-thousand cyclists a day. The solar cells are crystalline silicate embedded in concrete with a layer of tempered glass on top. It sits at a slight angle to keep dirt and debris from collecting as well as for better exposure to direct sunlight. Since the cells are at street level, it’s estimated that the road is 30% less efficient than if they were roof mounted.
That’s 100% more efficient than plain pavement.
Critics of the road think the money could have been spent more wisely, such as putting the panels above the path, offering the cyclists some shade and a more efficient collection system, but the Netherlands seems content to proudly display their efforts at ground level, as they should be, to help make the world a better place.
Solar power has been called expensive by critics, but in today’s day and age of trying to relieve our dependence on fossil fuels, the initial expense of solar installations could be well worth the benefits. A report by The Guardian states:
If all the roads in the U.S. were converted to solar roadways, the Solar Roadways website claims, the country would generate three times as much energy as it currently uses and cut greenhouse gases by 75 percent.
Three times as much energy as it currently consumes? At that point logic would dictate that we would only need to convert one-third of our roadways to solar to cover our energy needs.
Unfortunately the Koch Brothers are way ahead of the game, waging war against solar energy, as well as all other forms of renewable energy and all human decency, so that dream will most likely never be realized.
At least we can rest a little easier knowing that Europe will do it’s part to attempt to curb the greenhouse gases and make our planet sustainable while we sit in out gasoline powered cars watching our coal powered television and worrying about how high the cost of heating oil will go this winter.
If only there were a giant ball of free energy sitting in the sky twelve to sixteen hours a day. Wouldn’t that be something?
The video below has been considered a pipe dream by many, and there is little to no statistical data on whether these solar roadways would be worth actually building, but in a society evolving away from internal combustion engines and homes heated with fossil fuels it certainly is a nice dream to have. It’s also a pretty fun video to watch.