A solar road is designed to be the answer to energy conservation and renewable energy. But not every innovative idea is practical in real life. There are a series of steps that lead to a disaster. For many solar roads, there are several, obvious reasons for their collective failure.
Steps to Failure
There are certain inventions that seem innovative but are doomed for failure. One invention is the “solar road” that is supposed to incorporate solar technology with the roadway. The spaces that are left unoccupied on a road are equipped with solar panels, which are designed to generate electricity from sunlight.
It seems efficient, but there are several inconsistencies. Other cars on the road, which are spewing dirt and debris all over is surface, could block sunlight from reaching the panels and prevent a proper absorption of light. There’s the additional risk of drivers driving over the panels and damaging them over time.
Overall, installing solar road panels is predicted to be riskier and more expensive than installing regular rooftop panels. These structures can be installed onto the rooftops of numerous buildings and generate large amounts of solar power.
In France, a solar road called The Wattway is already facing serious problems. The project is expensive with more than 2,000 solar cells covering the surface. However, the lightweight silicon material that the panels are made of are deteriorating under the weight of big trucks. As more big trucks continue to drive over the surface, more panels will break down in a few years and eventually become ineffective. Replacing hundreds of panels at once will add expensive repair costs to the project.
Less Power Than Expected
Overall, the project has generated a little more than half of its proposed goal of 150,000 kWh per year. This shortcoming is blamed on the country’s mild climate, which means the sun only comes out half of the year. Even on days when the sun is high, not enough electricity is not generated because the panels are positioned flat on the ground and not directed at the sun.
The solar road is only one of countless environmentally conscious ideas. More innovative projects are expected to develop now and hundreds of years into the future. It’s important to take example from massive efforts like solar road panels and work toward more realistic goals.