Solar panels and asphalt roads. Symbiosis of technology
According to some estimates, about 0.2-0.5 percent of the world's land surface is covered with roads. And this ratio should increase by 60% by 2050, and for the environment this is clearly not going to benefit. Solar panels also take up a lot of space, and accordingly, if you combine two technologies, you can solve the problems of ecology and energy, saving the earth.
"Solar roads" is exactly that solution from the category of two in one, which is designed to solve many problems of technology of the "new century" (technological structure). Hybrid solutions in this case completely fall under the general trend of technology symbiosis.
This idea with varying degrees of effectiveness was implemented in the USA, Europe, China ...
In the USA - Solar Roadways.
Solar Roadways use modular solar panels covered with tempered glass. Scott and Julie Bruceau launched this project several years ago with the goal of turning conventional asphalt roads into energy-generating traffic arteries.
In 2016, the first public installation of these panels took place in Brucel's hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho.
In Europe - Wattway (France).
The one-kilometer road to Turuvre aux Perches was created thanks to the Colas Group company. It is covered with 2880 photo panels and generates enough energy for the operation of street lamps in the village where 3400 people live.
In China, a one-kilometer road in Jinan developed by the Qilu Transportation Development Group.
The road surface consists of three layers: insulating, solar panels and transparent concrete on the surface.
The standard problems of such projects are well known.
- Energy production compared to conventional solar power plants is almost half worse.
- Wear on the protective glass increases the risk of damage to the solar panel.
- There is a risk of theft of part of the solar road (a case has been recorded in China).
But overall, technology 2 in the 1st can still be beneficial. One has only to take into account the inevitable shortcomings, and minimize their impact.
Surprisingly, all the “sunny roads” are similar in one - they occupy the entire width of the road. This arrangement means in fact that the protective coating will wear unevenly over the entire length. The American project of the hexagonal “pavers” in this sense is much better than the others, since the entire section does not suffer along the width of the road, but still this drawback cannot be completely corrected.
Traffic on roads often goes in a constant rut mode. Only motorcycles and tricycles can move, breaking the usual trend (which is why they suffer the most in the winter season, since the track for regular vehicles is better cleared of snow than the entire road).
What does this give us? First of all, understanding that there are sections of the road that almost never experience the load from passing wheels, and therefore, if you place solar panels there, their durability will be much higher.
There are also sections on the road occupied by “marking”, which is also ideal for the role of solar panels (all the more so since the longevity of this type of road sign will be much better).
As can be seen from the comparison, from Smart to KAMAZ and PAZ, the track has certain limits that help to understand which sections of the road in theory may not be at all affected by wheel pressure during movement.
The limits of growth of “solar lanes” on the road are limited by the track of trucks and buses, since it is this type of transport that creates the greatest pressure on the surface and wear of the canvas.
The disadvantages of such a “striped” arrangement of panels on the road will be insignificant in the case of using an autopilot, which will coordinate the movement with the road, to always move along an asphalt track. It is also worth considering that for maximum safety, the resistance and other characteristics of the asphalt road should not significantly differ from the “solar” one, so that when maneuvering and braking and accelerating the wheels there will not be a turning moment of great strength (by analogy with a wheel on ice and ground on single axis).
With high values of the differences in coverage, it would be wiser to use the “sunblade” on the road to a limited extent, and in width not exceeding the width of the narrowest wheel of the car.
The energy from road solar panels can be used for various purposes.
- heating the canvas in winter, and "cooling" by pumping water through the same pipes in the summer. Thus, it will be possible to solve problems with hot water in roadside villages. If it is necessary to save, it is even possible to heat and cool precisely the track lines along which the wheels of the cars will go. It is even possible to cool solar cells while passing cold water pipes beneath them.
- Charging passing electric vehicles wirelessly and wired (a section of the road in Sweden equipped with a contact rail on the road is currently undergoing testing).
- light indication of markings in the evening and at night, as well as power for video cameras and auxiliary equipment along the road.
- selling excess energy to cities and towns.
From the further development of such a solar track, I also see a number of advantages.
For example, photovoltaic stripes allow you to fix the car in motion and heat the canvas in front of it in accordance with its speed, which will mean a constant heat spot over the car. Thus, the road heating system will be brought to the “ideal”, and you won’t even have to warm the entire length of the strip (gauge) for the passage of 3-4 cars in winter. Of course, the heaters in this case should already be electric, and in general this is already a complex system.
The next advantage can be considered the possibility of creating cleaning robots that will clean the road, occupying a minimum of the width of the canvas (maybe they can even be let go while driving along the highway). Cleaning primarily “solar” areas will make it possible to receive more energy from this system. The second, and no less important, task of these machines will be to clean the asphalt pavement from the remains of rubber and dust (and rubber crumb after separation from dirt and dust can be sold to tire manufacturers).
PS - A network of such roads in long sections may well become a salvation in the event of a snowstorm. The energy of the road with certain manipulations, with the permission of the owners of the canvas will be able to heat the car, and the point of energy extraction will serve as a beacon and communication tool for the Ministry of Emergencies and other services. Of course, this is all under the condition that it will be impossible to use local heating of the canvas in the area with people.
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Where would it be best to place the striped roads?
- 17.2% in tunnels (so that lighting in the tunnel would also benefit the road) 15
- 18.3% on racks and bridges (so that those wishing to pick up part of the road for themselves were in a difficult position) 16
- 64.3% on regular intercity toll roads (the private trader himself will follow the road, as it will be beneficial to him) 56