Image credit: KOA campground
By Darko Savic on Sep 08, 2020
As people already noted - the shade might be one of the main problems. If there's full sunshine, then the shading is even better, it's cooler and the sun doesn't blind you, but if the panels would also be built in places with a mix of sunny and cloudy days or in places with expressed seasons, then it might become a problem. In some countries (like mine) you already have to drive all day long with your lights on, the argument for this is that it reduces the number of accidents by making cars more visible from afar, so imagine if it's a cloudy winter's day and then additionally there's a "roof" over the road.. The first time I've heard something similar was the idea that highways could be paved with solar panels and electric cars would be wirelessly charged directly of the road while driving. This removes the shading problem. It's been calculated that cars only shade ~20% of the road's surface on average, so it's not a big loss for panels. The hardest part is probably to make this kind of road driveable and durable, but it's possible, just much more expensive. As I see now this has already been implemented for testing in some places (well without the charging part):
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I love the idea of having some parts of the roads and highways shaded with these solar panels because it would be a great way to generate energy. However, personally, I wouldn’t like all of the roads to have these solar panel screens because the sunshine won’t be reaching people in cars. Loads of people are indoors for their jobs so they might not be getting enough sun exposure as it already stands.
But on the flip side, too much sunshine is bad for us too! So I think having some roads and highways with these solar panel screens would be a great balance.
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It is a great idea and is feasible in theory. For a real implementation, it depends on the country, terrain and number of sunny days for it to also be cost efficient. A potential downside can be if they are completely fixed and therefore produce more shade than it is good for driving. I would suggest they can rotate around x axis, so they also follow the movement of the sun, while permitting some light to pass to the road, only as much as it's needed in order not to be dark and not to rely completely on artificial light (during the day). That way there is double gain: for energy accumulation and driving. Additionally, part of the accumulated energy can be used during the winter, if the panels get connected to the road, supplying the mechanism for ice melting. This is optional and depends on the particular part of the road which should need it.... read more
The idea is undoubtedly awesome!
Potential downsides are the same as for all solar power projects recently - costs and seasonality. Although the costs of materials and built tumbled, costs of storage and transmission are still high, especially for enormous projects like this. Also, the sun doesn´t shine the same everywhere and anytime (seasonality). But, what could be the wind in the back are the words of senior modeling analyst at Thompson Reuters Point Carbon: "If you would connect all the countries around the world then always somewhere the sun would shine and problem solved. But we are still quite far from that situation,” (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jan/31/solar-power-what-is-holding-back-growth-clean-energy). Maybe we are not that far after all.
Also, many years ago I watched a video with a similar idea (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU), maybe it can be an additional source of useful information.... read more
That is a great idea. Sale of electric cars is on the rise. How about using a part of this solar energy to run the cars on the road? Similar to the way the Tram (called Trolley in some countries) uses electricity to run on the roads, cars (with some advanced attachment to derive energy generated by the solar panels above) can do the same. The cars will then be able to travel greater distances since the battery limits the travel distance.
Apparently, solar farms kill birds (https://www.wired.com/story/why-do-solar-farms-kill-birds-call-in-the-ai-bird-watcher/). Also, bird feces on the panels need to be cleared continuously.... read more