Solar panels on the road are not such a good idea

A number of years ago tests were started at various locations with solar panels on the road. In France, panels were placed in Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy and also in America Solar Roadways has succeeded in laying down a number of panels, which in addition to the solar panel function also have LEDs to replace signs and heat themselves to never snow.

After a long time on the road, however, the yields of these panels do not appear to you . The road in France generates about 400 kWh per day, which is half less than the original estimate. More important, however, is the capacity factor. It calculates the efficiency of the panels by dividing the average yield by the maximum efficiency. That is 4 percent. A nearby bank of solar panels has an efficiency of 14 percent. Add to this the fact that the ‘ordinary’ solar panels cost only a tenth of the cost of the small solar path and then you know that the technology is not ready for it yet.

The price is still the big problem: the 2,800 square meters cost 5 million euros to install and that is a cost of more than 11,000 euros per kW. If a solar farm costs just 1,200 euros per kW, then you have to be very embarrassed to sit around in order to set it aside.

No energy, yet useful?

In America, it’s about the same story. There the capacity factor is a mere 0.78 percent, so that’s really bad. It must be said that you obviously have the LEDs that can replace traffic signs. The heating plates draw such a lot of energy from the panels that if they have to run constantly the actual yield is actually zero, but that would theoretically still be useful in areas where it is often snowing: you still have a road that can not snow up. and where you can display information, which effectively does not cost energy and where you only have the costs for construction.

An additional problem for ‘ordinary’ solar panels as roads is that relatively much space is not occupied by roads. The number of buildings per square kilometer in most countries takes up significantly more space than roads do, so it is actually much more efficient to simply put solar panels on roofs. Then they are at an angle, which is better for the yield. Also, they are not destroyed by things that go over them or random idiots, they are not put in the shade every few seconds because something goes over it and – not unimportantly – it costs only a fraction to install them.

Conclusion: the people of Solar Roadways still have something of an idea for certain areas with the solar panels / heating combo, but for the rest we just have to put all solar panels on roofs. They come to their right much better.


Subscribe to our Newsletter