China took a huge solar energy leap with its one-kilometre stretch of solar highway, which is being considered as the ‘world’s first solar-powered highway’ in the north-eastern Shandong province. This feat has placed China in the ranks of Holland, France, and other countries who have contributed to the idea of making solar roads a reality.
The one-kilometre long solar highway is set in the capital city of China’s Shandong coastal province, Jinan. And, the 1 km (0.6 miles) highway-stretch that has recently been opened for testing has been developed by Qilu Transportation Development Group. The solar road covers an area of around 5,875 square meters (63,200 sq ft) and has been made of three layers with the topmost made of transparent concrete, which can reportedly withstand 10 times more pressure than regular concrete. The middle section is made of photovoltaic panels and there is insulation at the bottom.
China plans to use the energy generated, which is anticipated around 1 million kWh of electricity in a year from the test section to recharge electric cars, power highway lights, surveillance cameras, signboards, tunnel and toll gate facilities. Xu Chunfu, the group’s chairman stated that the surplus power would be supplied to the state grid. He also added that the project would save the space for building solar farms and also shorten the transmission distance.
China’s solar road reportedly costs half of the similar roads in other countries. It was reported that in 2016, a village in France opened the world’s first solar road, and in 2014, the Netherlands built a bike path that was embedded with solar panels.
Even though critics have been debating about the efficiency of solar roads, the testbed in China is definitely commendable, reiterating that solar power is the future of the renewable energy for the world.