It was only back in May of last year that we commented on the development of solar panels to be used on road networks in the USA. This was a system called Solar Roadways. Well, we have now heard about solar panels being used for a cycle path that we thought you would find of interest.
Will we see solar panel cycle paths in the UK in the future?
It probably does not come as a surprise to read that this bike path is in the vicinity of Amsterdam in Holland. The capital city of that country is renowned for the number of bicycles that are ridden by people whether it is for leisure purposes or to commute to and from work.
Apparently, the cycle path runs between Krommenie and Wormerveer that is used by around 2,000 commuters to cycle to and from work each day. The path is only about 230 feet. It has a solar surface to provide energy from the sun’s rays. Over a period of time it is expected that the path will be lengthened. It is to be opened on the 12th November 2014.
The path has been constructed using concrete modules and solar cells. Unfortunately, it will not generate as much power as solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of homes as the panels have been laid fairly flat resulting in 30% less energy being produced.
The system is strong enough to take the weight of lorries so it possibly has the potential to be used on road systems in the future. This will be interesting because the energy generated could possibly be used to help provide the electricity for street lighting that is no doubt normally a considerable expense to local councils.
Here in the UK, we cannot help but see the success of solar panel systems as they have been and continue to be installed across many rooftops on housing estates. This is no doubt going to continue as we strive to achieve our carbon emission targets.
The percentage of ground mounted solar panel systems has grown in comparison to roof mounted systems.
Perhaps, what is not so apparent is the huge volume of ground mounted solar panels that have been erected in recent years. It wasn’t until mid-way through 2010 that such installations started to take place. By the middle of the following year ground mounted solar panels accounted for about 30% of installations. By the beginning of 2014 they accounted for almost 50% of installations.
We are sure that you will agree this is a huge increase in the percentage of ground mounted solar panels and it will be interesting to monitor their progress. Apparently, it is likely that the % figure will exceed that of roof mounted solar panels shortly. This is interesting considering the occasions that we have mentioned about the likes of Sainsbury’s installing solar panels on the roofs of some of their buildings. Developments like theirs have no doubt had an impact.
Mind, thinking about it, there have been a lot of objections raised by communities to the siting of ground mounted solar photovoltaic arrays on agricultural land. On many occasions, they have raised an objection because they were felt to be unsightly. There are of course no doubt many solar arrays that are reasonably well hidden so why should people object to those.
Many years ago, some people took exception to industrial estates being built on the outskirts of towns. Nowadays, they seem to be more widely accepted. Is this likely to happen with solar panels that are installed at ground floor level?
Surely, if we are going to meet these carbon emission targets by 2020, there needs to be greater tolerance by more people to solar panels being erected on large solar farms across the UK.
Over the years, we have witnessed solar panels appearing on the top of roofs around the world where they are usually ideally placed to capture the rays of the sun to achieve maximum benefit. They can also be spotted in peoples’ gardens where they are ground mounted.
Are we likely to see “spray on solar panels”?
You can even find solar arrays in patches of countryside in various parts of the UK and we have also reported on one being constructed on a reservoir. In the main, solar photovoltaic panels are of a rigid construction. Some time ago, we also commented about an Australian building being constructed with tiles that incorporated solar panels in them.
However, this may be changing as scientists at the University of Toronto are researching the use of spraying solar cells onto surfaces that are flexible by utilizing very small light sensitive materials that are called colloidal quantum dots (CQDs). In due course, these scientists would love to see the spraying of solar cells onto your roof.
They could also be sprayed onto so many different things such as on the roof of a car to power some light bulbs. It is believed that this system would not result in any significant loss in the efficiency of these solar cells. Obviously, it would be necessary to work out how to further develop this process to make it marketable to the public.
It will be interesting to monitor how this research progresses in the coming months/years and also to find out how much a solar panel system like this costs in comparison to the traditional solar photovoltaic system.
We would welcome the views of all of you reading this post. What do you think about the above research? Do you think it possible that it could be developed to a point where it can be manufactured and go on sale to the general public?