BEIJING –China on Thursday opened a 1-km section of the world’s first solar expressway for testing.
The United States started research on solar-powered roads in 2006. However, the first solar road, for pedestrians and bicycles only, was completed in Netherlands in 2014. Solar panels are installed on some roads in Germany and Italy.
However, China leads the world in solar power development. Its annual increase of new installed generation capacity has been the largest in the world since 2013. As of the end of September, China’s installed photovoltaic capacity hit 120 gigawatts.
The Solar panels are laid beneath part of a ring road surrounding Jinan, capital city of Shandong Province in east China. The road surface is made of a transparent, weight-bearing material that allows sunlight to penetrate.
The panels, covering 5,875 square meters, can generate 1 million kWh of power in a year, enough to meet the everyday demand of around 800 households, according to Qilu Transportation Development Group, the project developer.
Electricity produced by the test section will be used to power highway lights, signboards, surveillance cameras, tunnel and toll gate facilities. Surplus power will be supplied to the state grid, Xu added.
Future functions to be developed include mobile charging for electric vehicles and providing internet connection. Xu however did not reveal the cost but said it was half of similar projects in foreign countries.