China has opened a 1-kilometre stretch of solar motorway near Jinan, the capital city of Shandong Province in east China. The road can generate 1 million kW hours of electricity in one year.
The new solar motorway features 5,875 square metres of solar panels and generates enough energy to meet the daily demand of around 800 households, according to an article in Xinhua.
The solar panels were laid on part of a ring road surrounding Jinan. The road consists of three layers: the solar panels are in the middle, with insulation below and a transparent, weight-bearing material on top that allows sunlight to penetrate, explains Inhabitat.
The solar road is currently being tested and the electricity it produces will be used to power motorway lights, signboards, surveillance cameras, tunnels and toll gate facilities. Surplus power will be supplied to the state grid, said Xu Chunfu, chairman of Qilu Transportation Development Group. In the future, the electricity could even go towards mobile charging for electric vehicles and providing internet connection.
While Xu did not reveal the project’s costs to Xinhua, he said it was half of similar projects in foreign countries. “With the development of solar power in China, the cost can be further reduced,” added Xu.
China has been the world’s top solar energy producer since 2016.
Image credit: Qilu Transportation Development Group