Last October, the Dutch town of Krommenie installed an unusual bike lane. Along a 328-foot bike path, solar cells were embedded inside tempered glass to turn the road into an energy generator. A year later, the SolaRoad is performing even better than expected, proving that the concept could be worthwhile for other towns.
The first of its kind in the world, the solar bike lane has generated 9800 kilowatt hours of electricity, about enough to power three homes for a year. This energy could eventually be used to power street lighting, traffic lights, and perhaps even electric cars.
The pilot research in Krommenie is not over, however. The past year posed several challenges, including the concrete’s coating shrinking in the winter. During the next two years of testing, the team behind SolaRoad will try out new and improved versions of the materials.
The Netherlands is the first to put this kind of energy-harvesting road infrastructure into action, but the concept has been floated elsewhere, too. A French transportation company recently unveiled a similar project for roadways, though no pilots have been announced [PDF], and a crowd-funded solar road concept based in the U.S. raised more than $2 million on Indiegogo in 2014.
All images courtesy of SolaRoad Netherlands