Solar Roadways, a Path to the Future?
Several years ago, a novel idea was proposed. What if we replace roadways with solar panels? With the rise in solar technology, several nations decided to undergo this experiment to increase renewable energy. The United States, China, France and the Netherlands all have installed panels on roadways to see if these installations would develop new usable energy. The benefits of solar energy on roadways are simple; harness the power of the sun to create alternative energy sources while conserving land for other projects. What are the results?
Panels - Optimal Tilt
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the panels, in order to obtain the most optimum amount of sunlight panels need to be tilted. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the ideal tilt would be towards the west as the sun is strongest mid-day through the evening hours as it sets. On roadways that option is not a possibility except for the small percentage of roadways that contain natural slope.
In addition to the disadvantage of flat panels, other factors such as the thickness of the glass to withstand traffic weight as well as dust, debris and vehicles on the roads would further dampen the amount of light that absorbed. This issue is even further exacerbated if solar panels are installed within cities where structures would also block out solar energy further reducing the amount of light the panels can absorb. Another issue is of safety concerns. Panels do not have the same texture as asphalt and can create a slick surface on roadways where vehicles travel at a fast rate.
Recently Tourouvre-au-Perche, France installed panels on their roadways. These panels were set to generate 800 kilowatt hours per day. However recent data has showed that the panels averaged around 410 kilowatt hours per day.
There are some advantages to having panels installed on roads. Electric heating strips could be used to melt snow that falls on them and light-emitting diodes can provide drivers with well-lit signage alerting them to upcoming exists as well as traffic hazards and construction zones up ahead. Solar roads can even eliminate the need to paint roadways with lines and instead using LED lights in their place.
So far, the results have not been in favor of solar panels replacing traditional asphalt. Due to the lack of tilt to optimize solar input and obstruction from trees, vehicles, structures, dust and other elements; solar panels will not replace our current roadways, at least not any time soon. Today solar panel installation on buildings or in empty fields is still the best way to go to create renewable energy.
To learn more about solar panels and how you can utilize them to their best ability within your property, contact the experts at Plug It In Solar. Through a free consultation you can learn how this emerging technology can help you save money.