The Yellow Brick [Solar] Road

The creative minds that continue to think of new solar capacities never ceases to amaze us! Two recent items in the news have us shaking our heads in amazement.

First, a solar road (known as SolaRoad) has been developed in Krommenie, Netherlands. It’s been in use for six months now, and has exceeded expectations so far. It is roughly a 230-foot long bike path (after all the Dutch are known for biking everywhere), and it has generated more than 3,000 kilowatt-hours, enough energy to power a small household for a year.The mostly concrete path has strategically placed solar panels throughout covered by a safety glass, making it hardly noticeable to undiscerning eyes.

SolaRoad has already been used by more than 150,000 cyclists! The concept is being tested for three years to ensure the solar panels are just as skid-resistant and non-reflective for pedestrians as asphalt. Already deemed a success, now scientists are considering how this solar road could translate into powering street lights, traffic lights, and even cars.

The second impressive solar innovation is the Solar Impulse 2, a solar plane that is being flown from China across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. In total, the plane will be taking a five-month journey around the world. Although it is much slower than a traditional passenger plane, flying between 30-60 mph, its engine has 97 percent efficiency, compared to a gasoline engine that only has a 27 percent efficiency. The plane has an impressive wingspan – larger than a Boeing 747, but only weighs as much as a car at 5,070 pounds. The sun energizes four lithium polymer batteries to provide fuel for night-time flying. The weather determines when this plane can fly, however, so conditions must be just right to ensure the five-day journey across the ocean will be a success.

We are excited to see how these solar innovations spark other creative minds and where the solar road may go!

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