Since its inauguration on Dec. 28, 2017, the PV-power freeway in Jinan of China, 1,089 meters long and the world's first such facility, has been up and running, having generated 96.02 kWH of power as of April 9, or 923 kWh per day, sufficient to meet the power needs of the freeway equipment and 800 households, according to developer Qilu Transportation Development Group.
With a warranty of 15-20 years, similar to common asphalt concrete highway, the PV-power freeway consists of three layers, with a transparent concrete surface, allowing penetration by sunlight to reach the solar-panel layer in the middle, which is atop the insulating layer, for fending off humidity, at the bottom. Wi-Fi network is still not available on the freeway, despite being technologically feasible, as charging facilities, data-transmission devices, and sensors have yet to be installed there, according to Zhou Yong, president of Qilu.
Solar panels of the freeway can meet the power needs of road lamps, electronic billboards, facilities for automatically spraying snow-melting agents, tunnel light, and toll stations. In the future, in line with technology upgrading and coordination with other industries, it is expected to realize such functions as electronic signs, wireless charging for cars, snow melting with surface heat, Wi-Fi, and big-data integration and analysis.
For installation of such extra facilities, the freeway will have to be lengthened and construction cost reduced, to, say 3,000 yuan (NT$14,000) per square meter, down from 7,000 yuan (NS$33,000) for the existing section (for a total of 41 million yuan, or NT$190 million).
Zhou Yong noted that given the faster-than-expectation development of transportation, it is imperative for road development to keep up with the development of driverless cars.
China already overtook the U.S. to become the world's largest electric-car market in 2015, boasting 50% share worldwide, and is expected to move 1 million energy-conserving cars, including electric cars, electric-gasoline hybrid cars, and fuel-cell cars, this year, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The Chinese government has targeted raising sales of electric cars to 7 million by 2025 and having 10% of new cars be driverless models by 2030.
While China is the world's first country to apply solar panels in freeway, France is the pioneer in applying solar panels in highway. The world's first PV-power highway was inaugurated in Tourouvre-au-Perche, a small town in Normandy in northwestern France. At construction cost of US$5.2 million, the one-kilometer highway is furnished with 2,800 solar panels, turning out 767 kWh of power daily, or 280,000 kWh a year, capable of supplying the power needs of the town's 3,400 population.
(Written by Daisy Chuang; CAAM; First photo courtesy of Qilu Transportation Development Group)