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article imageChina joins France and the Netherlands in testing solar highway

By Karen Graham     Dec 30, 2017 in Technology
Jinan - China has joined France and the Netherlands in testing solar expressways, opening a one kilometer (0.6 miles) stretch of photovoltaic roadway in Jinan, the capital city of Shandong province
Not everyone is excited over the prospect of solar roadways, a form of pavement that generates electricity by collecting solar power with photovoltaics. Parking lots, footpaths, driveways, streets and highways have all been considered a candidate for this type of photovoltaic pavement.
The biggest objection to solar highways has been the cost, which naysayers say is far greater than the energy requirement of making thick solar glass, compared to the cost of the glass used in standard rooftop PV. Then there is the performance of these roads to consider because all roads don't follow the sun's path.
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China Xinhua News
However, China went ahead with the construction of the one-kilometer solar-powered highway in Jinan’s southern beltway, consisting of three layers: a protective surface layer made of transparent concrete, a middle layer of solar-powered batteries to generate electricity, and an insulation layer to prevent dampness below.
Qilu Transportation Development Group, the project developer, claims the solar panels cover 5,875 square meters and can generate 1 million kilowatt-hours of power in a year, or enough to meet the energy demands of about 800 homes. They say that if the technology proves to be effective, the electricity generated could be used to provide power to street lights, and even a snow-melting system for the road.
"The project will save the space for building solar farms and shorten the transmission distance," said Xu Chunfu, the group's chairman.
The first photovoltaic road surface in the world was built in France.  By combining the techniques o...
The first photovoltaic road surface in the world was built in France. By combining the techniques of road construction with those of photovoltaic production, Wattway supplies clean, renewable energy, under all types of vehicle traffic.
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World's first photovoltaic road
China is hailing this stretch of road as "the world's first photovoltaic roadway.," claiming it is a special road because it is designed to do a lot more than just harness the sun's rays and get vehicles from one point to another. The road is also a clean energy lab to test other technologies, including wireless charging for electric vehicles and providing an Internet connection.
The stretch of highway includes two lanes, along with an emergency lane and is designed for both electricity generation and public transport. And yes, the cost of the road is definitely something to consider, and one reason why it is only one kilometer in length. The road cost around 3,000 yuan ($458) per square meter, significantly higher than regular streets.
More about solar highway, Jinan China, photovoltaic panels, transparent concrete, Technology