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.
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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.