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Project's backers hope new surface could eventually be deployed across Dutch road network...

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.

15 comments

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jonusher [20 posts] 6 years ago
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Erm, am I missing something - but glass doesn't have the best slip co-efficient... does it mention any kind of non-slip treatment being added?

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harvey.grainger [13 posts] 6 years ago
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Glass Surface? Rain?

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step-hent [725 posts] 6 years ago
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I was just thinking the same thing... like a skid pan!

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b3nharris [44 posts] 6 years ago
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That's not the only issue - how are you going to keep the surface clean? As rubber and other crap is deposited all over the glass the efficiency of the solar panels will plummet. A nice idea but not particularly well thought out?

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Simon_MacMichael [2494 posts] 6 years ago
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Regarding slipping in the rain, it appears from the TNO website that the surface is being designed to adhere to required standards of roughness and maintenance in highway design, but we're checking with them what specific measures will be in place to address this potential problem and will report back once we have a reply.

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surreyxc [50 posts] 6 years ago
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Maybe I missing something, but what is the advantage. I could understand if the cycle lane was delivering energy from kinetic means, like with peoples footsteps. Would it not be better to stick the solar panels above the cycle path to offer protection from the elements and encourage more to cycle.

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 6 years ago
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Burying electrical equipment in the ground is a bad idea. It is where the water goes when it rains.

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OldRidgeback [2774 posts] 6 years ago
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Be nice if you had an electric bike featuring inductive recharging technology. You could whizz along without having to pedal or having to lug a heavy battery around as the system could from a capacitor

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handlebarcam [1005 posts] 6 years ago
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It might work in the Tropics, where the sun is directly overhead once a year, but in Holland, they'd need to bank the cycle path at something like 30 degrees to make it efficient on the summer solstice. Which they might do, seeing as it seems cycling is a secondary consideration.

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jonusher [20 posts] 6 years ago
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Where do you think the electricity in your house comes from? A big cable buried under the ground.

I actually think this is a pretty good idea if implemented properly - one of the biggest costs of lighting routes comes from the exorbitant fees charged by statutory operators for connections to their cable network. Generally about a third of the cost of providing street lighting can come from paying for the connections - this could obviate the need for connections, although there would still be an issue surrounding storing the energy created.

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dave atkinson [6304 posts] 6 years ago
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personally i'm with surreyxc here: it seems like an awful lot of work to implement a system that seems to have some fairly fundamental flaws. surely the cost of adding some kind of basic roof with solar panels would be less? the panels are out of the way, you can angle them at the sun and the cyclists don't get rained on.

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JonoB [53 posts] 6 years ago
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If it was in my home town it would be completely covered in litter, broken glass and dog crap within a week.

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STATO [535 posts] 6 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:

personally i'm with surreyxc here: it seems like an awful lot of work to implement a system that seems to have some fairly fundamental flaws. surely the cost of adding some kind of basic roof with solar panels would be less? the panels are out of the way, you can angle them at the sun and the cyclists don't get rained on.

And who will pay for the mandatory inspections to ensure the heavy solar panel roof wont fall on someone when the supports start rusting? They will probably have to do inspections on the glass too if people are walking/riding on it so its already exepensive.

I think a far easier idea would be to install all these panels onto the side of the dykes, angled already for best use of the sun, wasted space where nothing is using it (save livestock) and should be cheaper to maintain and install as it wouldnt have to supoprt peoples weight.

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handlebarcam [1005 posts] 6 years ago
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Even in Holland, where they face the possible loss of land previously reclaimed from the sea due to global warming, there is surely enough land for separate bike lanes and solar panels. Perhaps solar cells should be foisted on less space-efficient and more polluting forms of transport, such as on the roofs of garages, or along railway embankments.

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Andre [2 posts] 6 years ago
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It's just a test site. If it does not live up to expectations, they'll try something else.