Dutch test unlikely location for solar panels: the road beneath their bicycle tires

A project dubbed "SolaRoad" gets underway in the Netherlands this week, testing roadways as a potential canvas to collect solar energy. Fittingly for the cycle-crazy Dutch, the first SolaRoad is a bike path not far from Amsterdam.

The path is built of large modules of solar panels, each with heavy-duty glass protecting them from wear. An additional rough translucent plastic coating on top ensures bikers don't slip.

Sten de Wit of engineering firm TNO said Tuesday each square meter (yard) of road generates 50-70 kilowatt hours of energy per year. That's about enough for the initial 70-meter (yard) test to power one house.

The three-year test project will cost 3 million euros ($3.7 million). De Wit says that as solar cells get cheaper, solar roads will enjoy economies of scale.