Solar energy is an important renewable energy source having immense benefits to the environment. Solar panels are used to transform solar heat into solar electricity. Complementary to the fossil fuels that we consume daily, solar energy is safe and clean and does not emit harmful pollutants which cause a greenhouse effect. As the energy evolution is becoming a certainty, envision if a road can produce solar energy?
Solar panel roads are an engineered system that can be used for walking or driving all types of vehicle. Each solar panel is approximately of 12’ by 12’ size. They connect with the neighbouring panels to make the system communicate and control. Solar panel help transforms solar heat into solar electricity which can replace our current deteriorating power distribution infrastructure. Solar panel also uses LED lights replacing paints to mark lines and warning symbols. The solar roadway panel is built up of tempered glass which can easily manage the weight of heavy vehicles. The glass is textured to create proper grip for vehicles and pedestrians. The hexagonal panel adds to the attractiveness of these roads as compared to traditional tar roads. The panels also contain a heating element to avoid snow accumulation. The microprocessors inherited inside panels work smartly to communicate and control system. Thus, it is possible to build a smart road which can reduce the greenhouse effect by approximately 75% and efficiently using the solar energy which is not being utilised till now.
There are many long lasting benefits of using solar technology, and the vision of using a solar panel, as said on Euro Solar Group website, is to have a win-win situation for the environment and to protect the fossil fuels from getting depleted. Its added benefit offer modern infrastructure and self-healing power grid.
Solar panel electricity production majorly depends on three things: panel size, the efficiency of solar cells and the quantity of sunlight hitting straight on the panel. Secondary factors affecting its production are a direction of a rooftop, roof that is having least shade, a period of the year, time of day and other climatic factors. Solar panels produce DC energy. But AC energy is currently being used in residential and commercial spaces. Thus by converting the AC energy to DC energy, it would give more benefits to the consumers regarding minimum power loss and maximum savings. Solar panel roads will provide benefits to the area connected through these roads such as driveways, sidewalks, shopping centres, playgrounds, and much more. To maintain the efficiency of solar panels, they need to be cleaned and maintained properly to avail the maximum benefit. A usual solar panel produces roughly 200 watts of electricity depending on its panel size and effectiveness. Thus the number of panels installed can be multiplied with the electricity produced to get the correct efficiency of a solar panel.
The pros of using a solar panel are as follows:
- Major source of renewable energy
- Longer life span as compared to the traditional asphalt roads
- Sunlight not utilised until now can be used to produce solar electricity which can be distributed among residential and commercial spaces through their driveways and parking area
- Solar panels have inbuilt feature of heating which is used to melt snow ensuring that the roads are not blocked and surface is not slippery due to snow
- LED lights in the panel help light up the roads to avoid any mishap and reduce the maintenance cost of marking signage
- Inbuilt sensors in the panel can help light up the driveway to alert about another car coming or to protect any animal which has come its way
- Help reduce greenhouse effect
- Unlike traditional roads, solar panel roads are more long-lasting and resilient
- Inbuilt feature to recharge the electric cars while in motion or in parking
The cons of using a solar panel are as follows:
- Major hurdle in its way is the start-up cost and its maintenance cost which will be quiet high in initial phase
- Under developing, nations cannot afford these panels because of its high cost
- It will take a long term to reach the break even ratio
- Durability of solar panel roads is a matter of concern
- Tempered glass of solar panels can cause viability issues
Thus, to conclude whether solar panel roads will be successful or not, the answer is that in the long term it would be an effective solution against electricity needs. More and more transition is coming in ways to use renewable energy in areas like an electric car, solar lights, solar appliances and much more. The sun light which is not utilised till now can become the most important source of energy. Though the initial cost is extremely high, it will be a viable option in the long term with significant benefits. Additionally, the hurdles that can come in the way of using solar panel roads needs to be dealt with proper process and making it cost effective so that even the developing nations can take benefit of the same.
Thus, if solar panel road technique is successfully implemented many changes can be expected in the long term. As the parking areas, sidewalks, and similar areas supply power to residential and commercial complexes in nearby areas; minimum energy has to be transmitted to distant areas, resulting in a minimum loss. The sunlight emitted through the sun now is wasted as people are unaware of its storage process. A virtual grid system can be used to store the solar energy and can be used to charge the panel’s LED lights, or at night or during any environmental disaster when there is less energy produced. The process of burning coal to generate electricity causes damage to the environment, hence lead to greenhouse gases and changes in climate. Thus, adoption of solar panels will reduce the greenhouse effects and dependence on fossil energy. Additionally, as the economy is moving towards the electronic era, the implication of solar panel will help charge the electric vehicles anywhere.
As every coin has two sides, there are pros and cons of using solar panel roads, but it is highly suggested to adopt this system which will have great benefits in the long run. Visit the Facebook page for Euro Solar Group to get the latest news on the Austarlian Solar industry.