- FOUR years ago a viral campaign wooed the world with a promise of fighting climate change and jump-starting the economy by replacing tarmac on the world’s roads with solar panels. The bold idea has undergone some road testing since then. The first results from preliminary studies have recently come out, and they’re a bit underwhelming.
A solar panel lying under a road is at a number of disadvantages. As it’s not at the optimum tilt angle, it’s going to produce less power and it’s going to be more prone to shading, which is a problem as shade over just 5 per cent of the surface of a panel can reduce power generation by 50 per cent.
You don't put solar panels flat on the ground. You don't put solar panels under obstructions that cause shadows. There is a reason you put these things on roofs or in empty fields.
- One of the first solar roads to be installed is in Tourouvre-au-Perche, northwest France. This has a maximum power output of 420kW, covers 2800sq m and cost €5 million ($8 million) to install. This implies a cost of €11,905 ($A19,230) per installed kW.
While the road is supposed to generate 800kWh/day (kilowatt hours per day), some recently released data indicates a yield closer to 409kWh/day, or 150,000kWh/yr.
For an idea of how much this is, the average home uses around 10kWh/day. The road’s capacity factor — which measures the efficiency of the technology by dividing its average power output by its potential maximum power output — is just 4 per cent.
YADONTFUCKINGSAY. But But But SOLAR! FREAKING! ROADWAYS! DUDE! For half the cost they could have done traditional installs and got double the power.
- And this is before we look at the actual data from the Sandpoint installation, which generated 52.397kWh in six months, or 104.8kWh over a year. From this we can estimate a capacity factor of just 0.782 per cent, which is 20 times less efficient than the Cestas power plant.
Indiana is a backwards Hick and Klan fueled shithole, and even THEY knew that Solar Roadways were a bad idea. Then again, Indiana roads are a series of potholes held together by asphalt. Idaho spent $3-4 Million on a test walkway. Total and epic failure You don't want to cover the panels preventing light from hitting them. You also need airflow around the panel to cool them and prevent overheating. And you don't want cars dripping oil, trucks dropping gravel and all the other bad things that happen to a road. Then you have the whole "how do I keep water from getting under the panels and making sinkholes and potholes"
- That said, it should be pointed out that this panel is in a town square. If there is one thing we can conclude, it’s that a section of pavement surrounded by buildings in a snowy northern town is not the best place to locate a solar installation.
Said everybody who has ever been involved in a solar plant installation. Said everyone who knew how solar panels worked. Said everyone who knew what the hell they were talking about. but fuck me, what do the so-called "experts" know anyway! SOLAR! FREAKING! ROADWAYS!
- However, perhaps there’s a bigger point — solar roads on city streets are just not a great idea.
Who the fuck would have guessed that! There is a reason asphalt and concrete are used for roads, and they are probably not going to be replaced anytime soon. Both materials can handle the abuse of a 60 ton truck slamming on its brakes. Both materials can be made water proof. Both materials are well understood and easy to recycle into new roadbed material. Note that when they tested the solar road, they used a digger with tracks, not tires. Tracked vehicles have a lower PSI on the road and can use the greater area of the contact with the road surface to stop and maneuver. Do that with a big SUV and let's watch those panels react.
Between this shit, Fontus, and some of the other flat out scams I see on Kickstarter and Indy-go-go I'm done with crowd-sourcing as a concept. It's a good idea for trivial and niche products that don't have a traditional concentrated market, like games, I guess. My Brother has a few Kickstarted boardgames and I can see the benefit of that way of marketing; build a dedicated fan base to pay for the first run, then use that popularity/profit to get your game in stores where most people still buy games. But then again, how else are you going to scam people into buying artificial gills?