There are an estimated 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands — a figure larger than the Dutch population itself. It’s no wonder then that an Amsterdam suburb has become the first city to install a solar-powered bike lane.
The 70 metre long ‘SolaRoad’ will officially open on November 12th. The $3.7 million dollar project was a joint venture between Dutch industries, research institutions and the government.
The bike lane was constructed using prefabricated, concrete slabs — the solar cells are placed beneath a one centimetre thick layer of tempered glass, which is translucent, skid-resistant and dirt repelling. It’s also extremely durable, being able to withstand the weight and pressure of a truck. These flat modules, however, are 30 per cent less efficient than traditional panels, which can be angled toward the Sun.
The creators of SolaRoad hope to expand the lane to 100 metres by 2016. The electricity produced by the lane will be used for street lighting, traffic systems and households. Dr. Sten de Wit of the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research anticipates that solar roads will one day be used to power electric cars, gather traffic information and direct automated vehicles.
The SolaRoad is located in Krommenie, 20 kilometres outside of the capital. It is part of an existing bicycle lane that serves about 2,000 cyclists daily.