Need to Know

Power to the Pavement

FYI: Green

Energy efficiency is a hot issue with executives, and solar parking lots and converted roofs are becoming more common at work. Now, the road you use to get to the office might be the next big power source.


In November 2014, SolaRoad, the first road converting sunlight into electricity, opened in the Netherlands. Along the 100-meter bike path, solar cells are embedded into concrete slabs, protected by a centimeter-thick layer of tempered glass.

It may be a small project, but it’s the beginning of a new concept. “It’s a big idea, to harvest the energy that hits the roads, convert it into electricity, and feed it back into the roads,” says SolaRoad spokesperson Sten de Wit. De Wit says the electricity produced might be used for street lighting, traffic systems, and electric cars, and even to power nearby households.

A similar concept recently gained momentum in the United States, where Solar Roadways received more than US$2 million from a crowdsourcing campaign to drive its patented solar paving technology to the next level. Back in the Netherlands, the consortium powering SolaRoad will test the path over the next three years to determine its efficiency and durability.

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Photography by Shutterstock