• EEVblog #743 – Solar Roadways Test Results

    The 6 month test results for the Solar Roadways Solaroad.nl solar bike path project in the Netherlands are in. Dave compared the results to three local rooftop solar system and debunks the recent media reports that the project produces more power than was expected and that the solar roadway are now viable as a result.
    And which country is doing Solar Roadways right? – South Korea!

    Forum HERE

    Dave’s solar system results Video
    Solar roadways are bullshit Video
    More Solar Roadways bullshit Video
    Solar road calcs

    Solaroad Press Release
    Engadget Story
    Popular Mechanics Story
    Three solar installations in the Netherlands used in the analysis:
    Solar panel datasheets:
    Ningbo Qixin
    Video of the Solar Roadway in South Korea

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      • It would be interesting to have some data as far as how much road construction costs and materials are as well for standard roads vs solar roads.

        So say standard roadways have to be initially laid out and then maintained every X months or years and how much is spent in man hours and materials.

        Then calculate that same information for solar roadways. That may be hard to do at this stage but would still be interesting to see the figures.

        • mjk

          The major impediment to using roadways, is the compromise between covering the panels with a tough light-transmitting surface which isn’t slippery when wet. Anything with ripples will scatter the light; anything smooth is slippy.
          Even though asphalt is tremendously expensive (ask anyone who’s paved their driveway), it is tough, and fairly easy to work. With a solar roadway, you either need to mount each panel in some kind of fixing designed to allow removal, or seal them in semi-permanently and swallow the cost of replacing breakages the hard way.
          I get the impression that there’s a political motive for making a cycleway in NL. Maybe the cycling lobby is trying to show that not only can they address the countries transport challenges with peddle power, but they can also address the power needs too. The Greens will save the day!

        • I’ve done the math on standard road construction costs in a previous video. Regular roads are very cheap, solar roads require concrete bases with support for the solar tiles + concrete trenches + the panels and electronics etc themselves.
          But it’s pointless even thinking about it because glass as a road surfe will never work nor be allowed.

      • Why isn’t the United States building highways like that with solar panels in the middle?

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      • Benjamin Polge

        Also, none of this accounts for any energy used to clean them. They ride bikes over these things and wind blows dust on them. I’m assuming SOMETHING must have at least swept these things in the course of 6 months. Maybe even snow removal. That was an energy cost they didn’t have prior to their installation.

      • Erwin Beks

        I have a question for you.
        How much percent of Australia’s energy needs could be produced with solar panels installed in the most efficient way on space available for solar panels?
        I hope you know the answer or can find out.

        Here is some data from wikipedia to compare or to countries.
        Australia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia
        Area: 7,692,024 km2 (6th)
        2,969,907 sq mi
        Population: 2015 estimate 23,843,000[5] (51st)
        Density: 2.8/km2 (233rd)
        7.3/sq m

        Netherlands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netherlands
        Area: 41,543 km2 (134th)
        16,039 sq mi
        Water (%) 18.41
        Population: 2015 estimate 16,912,640[5] (63rd)
        Density: 407/km2 (24th)
        1,054.2/sq mi

        The answer for the Netherlands is 25% according to the solaread website FAQ.
        I am guessing that percentage is a lot higher for Australia if i look at the density numbers.

        But you’re absolutely right i don’t think that solar roads are a solution for a big increase in solar powered energy generation. And the project give us better data in the press release to support their claim.

        My country now use a lot of fossil fuel for energy production that we have to import we also import a lot of electricity from surrounding countries. I think we have to look for alternatives for this so we can generate electricity more eco friendly and sustainable and be less dependent of other countries fossil fuels. There are proven alternatives for exempel wind energy but this has the same problem we dont have the space for it and than are alternatives that aren’t jet proven as fresh water/salt water electricity generation a project from a dutch university We have also (university) projects to increase the efficiency of example wind turbines. I think my country ends up with a big combination of methods for eco friendly and sustainable power generation to provide in our energy needs. maybe this will be one of them but most likely not on the scale proposed on the web site.

        Dave you’re a lucky you live in a country where there is probably enough space to provide eco friendly and sustainable power in a cost effective way from solar energy or alternatives. Please remember that there are also countries that don’t have the space or natural resource and must use less cost effective ways of eco friendly and sustainable power generation. And that the point of a project like this is not always to find the most cost effective way but just a economically feasible alternative way of eco friendly and sustainable power generation.

        • mjk

          Erwin, It’s good to present some facts like you have, but you have to be careful when you try to compare like for like. Although Australia is very big, most of the population live in cities, and you have to produce the energy where you use it, to be most efficient. In fact, I would bet that the population density of Australias cities is similar to those in NL.
          And I don’t think anyone is criticizing the drive to use renewable energy sources. It’s just that it’s not always viable to say “Hey, there’s a flat surface in a sunny spot, let’s put a solar panel on it”. It may even turn out to be more efficient to bury water pipes under the cycleway asphalt and generate hot water instead.

          • Erwin Beks

            Your absolute right. There are a lot of variables to compare two countries and it is difficult for all kinds of reason. I probably should have been more careful with some statements.

            Thats why i hope that Dave or someone else can give us a answer to the question i start with.

            But the point stil stand that is for some countries it’s easier to find the space than others. And for my county is probably necessary to “Hey, there’s a flat surface in a sunny spot, let’s put a solar panel on it” and find out in practice. A company involved with the construction of the solar road is also involved with “bury water pipes under the cycleway asphalt and generate hot water” isn’t the first thing the Netherlands is looking at and it wouldn’t be the last.

            some more data

            Sydney (1st)
            Population: 4,840,600 (2014) (1st)
            Density: 380/km2 (980/sq mi) (2013)

            Melbourne (2nd)
            Population: 4,442,919 people (2014)
            Density: 430/km2 (1,100/sq mi) [2]

            Amsterdam (1st)
            Population (municipality, March 2015 (CBS); urban and metro, March 2015
            Density: 4,908/km2 (12,710/sq mi)
            Urban: 1,317,663
            Metro: 1,590,520
            Metropolitan region: 2,431,000
            Randstad 6,979,500

            Rotterdam (2nd)
            Population (Municipality, May 2014; Urban and Metro, May 2014
            Municipality: 619,879
            Density: 2,969/km2 (7,690/sq mi)
            Urban 1,015,215
            Metro 1,181,284
            Metropolitan region 2,261,844
            Randstad 6,979,500

            Amsterdam And Rotterdam with a couple of other city are so close together that it’s known as Randstad

            Eindhoven, city i live in
            Population (Municipality, May 2014; Urban and Metro, May 2014; BrabantStad, 2007)
            Municipality 221,402
            Density 2,524/km2 (6,540/sq mi)
            Urban 337,487
            Metro 419,045
            Metropolitan region 749,841
            Brabant cities region 2,213,379

        • tkj tkj

          Erwin, this site might impress you:

          158mi. x 158mi solar array could supply 100% of our entire planet’s energy needs.
          I.e., a relatively microscopic land mass.

      • Syd Jessop

        Of course solar roadways will not be anywhere near as good as putting them on a roof. It is obvious. But, Dave, I think you are missing perhaps the only sensible reason for these projects and that is to promote solar panel awareness. The big problem with putting panels up high where they perform the best is that they are not seen. Put them on the ground and they are in people’s faces! How about that cycling commuter wondering whether he should put solar on his home or not?

        • So.. We can spend money putting solar panels in the most efficient spot practical, where they will enjoy a vastly longer service life and potentially double the power generation. Downside, “out of sight.”

          Or install them on the road surface where they are subject to high levels of wear and tear, are positioned non-optimally, provide a fraction of the power output and are expected to have a fraction of the service life. Perk, visible.. At least until the mud/snow/dirt hides them.

          Dunno, I’m thinking some signs on the support poles for overhead solar are making a lot more sense…

          ‘sides, how much is your random pedestrian going to appreciate the solar walkway when he’s staring up at the clouds after slipping on wet glass and cracking his head?

      • Ronald Brakeboer

        Hi Dave, ever drove on glass in the winter? Snow and ice on glass is very slippery!That’s one argument they withheld…

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