Biking a Sunny Path in the Netherlands

In recent years, bike lanes have become an essential part of sustainable transit systems. They’ve made it safer and easier for cars, cyclists, and pedestrians to share the road. Well, a new development in the Netherlands will take the advantages a step further by installing solar panels on the bike lanes themselves. Is this a practical idea, an interesting yet not feasible design, or a complete waste of time?

The initiative, called Solaroad, will transform an existing bike path outside of Amsterdam into an energy generator. Solar cells will be installed within concrete frames on the path and are expected to generate about 50kWh per square meter annually. The panels will be protected by glass, allowing light in and providing what should be an unprecedented vantage for North Holland’s cyclists.

Are there not enough rooftops available to install solar panels? It may be a good idea to reduce the number of solar panels at eye level, but won’t the glass panels become dangerously slippery in the rain? If they have a non-slip surface, won’t they become scratched, dirty and less effective? The Dutch have come up with many innovative ideas and have some of the best bike lanes in the world, but we wonder whether this is entirely practical.