A town in The Netherlands will soon become home to a solar cycling path which it is hoped could pave the way for a new source of sustainable energy.
Called SolaRoad, the project in the town of Krommenie, around 10 kilometres to the northwest of Amsterdam, is backed by the Province of North Holland, construction firm Ooms Avenhorn Group, research group TNO and technology business Imtech, and essentially sees the standard road surface replaced by solar panels.
The cycle path being used to pilot the scheme will have between 1.5 and 2.5 metres of concrete base, with a tough glass surface, underneath which will be a 1 centimetre layer of crystalline silicon solar cells, reports the website Green Blorge, which adds that the surface will be tough enough to withstand the force of a lorry being driven over it.
The website adds that the group developing the concept believe that the cycle path should generate 50 kWh per square meter annually. ICT systems will allow electricity to be distributed during peak sunshine hours as well as at night and during cloudy conditions.
It is hoped that eventually the concept could be rolled out across the 137,000km road network in the Netherlands, providing power for everything from traffic signals and street lights to nearby homes.
In response to concerns expressed in the comments below regarding the possibility of cyclists slipping on the surface, particularly during wet conditions, a spokesman for one of teh project's partners, TNO, told road.cc: "The safety and comfort of the future users of the SolaRoad is an important requirement in the technical development.
"In the current prototype the glass surface is treated to create a roughness, which gives sufficient skid resistance for a safe use of the road, both in dry and wet conditions. We are currently testing the durability of the roughness and skid resistance and will make improvements when and where necessary."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.