The Dutch are known for a lot of things, breaking with tradition is certainly one of them. The Netherlands recently announced that it’s readying a 70-meter bike lane with built-in solar panels. SolaRoad, the consortium who came up with the project along with the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), hopes to expand the lane to 100 meters by 2016 and perhaps bring the project to other areas.
The bike lane will open on November 12 in Krommenie, which is located 25 kilometers from Amsterdam. It’s made of rectangular concrete blocks that have layers of solar panels built into them. The fragile panels are encased in 1-inch thick glass that can withstand the weight and pressure of a truck without cracking. SolaRoad says that even this small chunk of road can generate enough electricity to power three homes, even though the solar panels can’t be moved or angled toward the sun for maximum ray absorption.
Ultimately, SolaRoad hopes to embed all roads with solar panels, so as to generate enough electricity to power everything from electric cars, to homes, businesses, and and other power hungry objects. While the consortium’s vision is noble and would definitely help alleviate the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, there’s just one massive problem with the plan: It’s very expensive.
So far, the project’s cost totals in around €1.5 million and the people behind the solar bike lane think it will cost as much as €3 million when it’s done, according to the BBC. Of course, as solar panels become cheaper to produce and install in roads, the high price tag could decrease. Still, for now, solar roads remain a futuristic dream for most.