4 Jun 2014

Solars Roads - Is This The Future For Our Cars And Roads?

Solar roads could have a ton of benefits in terms of safety, efficiency and providing a proper charging network for electric cars.

Electric cars can be just as good, or better than petrol or diesel cars.  They have torque from low down, don't have so many moving parts to go wrong and their design can be more flexible. But they don't go as far as conventional cars on a single tank/charge, they take too long to recharge and there aren't enough charge points.

Maybe solar roads are the solution to range issues.  They'll provide free electricity at many more places than the conventional electric grid could ever cope with and have the added benefits of providing surplus electricity to feed back in to the grid.

My day job is in the renewables industry so armed with what I know about solar generation I've done some back of a fag packet calculations.

There are 46,670 kilometres of motorway in the UK.  If all of them were converted to solar roads that would equal 420,038,784 square metres.  That would be enough to produce approximately 42 gigawatts of electricity.  The UK currently has a peak electrical demand of 57 gigawatts.

Therefore solar roads could theoretically provide 74% of all of the UK's electrical generation requirement just by rebuilding our motorways.  Yes, that would cost a vast amount but so will replacing our ageing power stations.

Take a look at the video. It's an interesting concept. I was initially concerned about the grip level available for motorcyclists but this seems not to be an issue.

By Matt Hubbard