Solar power is the best source of green energy. However, there is not enough space for solar farms. One suggestion is to replace concrete or asphalt roads with solar panels. The concept as simple as switching roads, parking lots, and sidewalks with industrial-strength solar panels. With this concept, New Zealand will have lots of space in city centres for solar panels that can produce carbon-free energy. The solar panels can also do other things, such as LED road signs and lighting.
And this idea can become a reality in the near future. Solar Roadways Incorporated, which is a startup from Idaho, USA, developed solar powered road panels that can be used to form smart highways. Their solar panel roads combine transparent surface, solar cells, sensors and electronic elements. The glass they use can withstand the stress from the heavy trucks and cars that are driven over them.
This should be a good idea considering how many square metres of roads, driveways, bike paths, sidewalks, playgrounds, and parking lots are there in New Zealand. When they are replaced with solar panels, the electricity generated is more than enough of what the entire country uses.
Disadvantages of Solar Roadways
The cost of the project is the reasons why governments are not quick to adopt this new technology. At present, roads are made as cheap as possible. And they are provided with as little maintenance as possible.
Solar Roadways are a lot more expensive than the typical road- Moving the traffic to sideways as the paint needs to be restored each year as well as other overhead signage. Even when taking into account the value of LED road signs and lighting the costs still too high compared to the benefits you’ll get.
According to the company, the solar roads will pay for themselves within 22 years. The solar roads technically can cut down the electricity bills of a town. And as technology improves, the costs for the solar panels will decrease as well. Then the price for solar roads will be more viable.
If you are asking whether solar panels can replace concrete or asphalt roads today, the answer is no when all factors are considered. At present, it is more feasible for a parking lot to install solar panels on their roofs than solar panels as pavements. However, solar road might be a good alternative for asphalt or concrete roads once the costs go down, maybe around 2030.