The 1-kilometer section of solar expressway in east China's Shandong Province has generated more than 96,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of power in three and a half months, the project developer, Qilu Transportation Development Group, said Monday.
Some 5,875-square-meters of solar panels were laid beneath part of a ring road surrounding Jinan, the provincial capital, in late December. The road surface is made of a transparent, weight-bearing material that allows sunlight to penetrate.
The road section has a designed life of 20 years and the surface is made of three layers -- a concrete layer pervious to light on top, thin amorphous silicon panels in the middle, and a waterproof insulate protection layer at the bottom. The total thickness of the surface is less than three centimeters.
The solar expressway has helped power street lights, electric signs, deicer sprinkler system, tunnel and toll gates since it began operation.
According to Xu Chunfu, chairperson of the group, more than 40,00vehicles drive over the road section every day and the surface has shown excellent performance in load-bearing capacity and skid resistance even in extreme weather and increased traffic during the Spring Festival.
The road's design team estimates that if two lanes of all expressways in China are fitted with the solar panel surface, together they could generate 7.2 trillion kWh of power every year, which is equivalent to 1.28 times the amount of China's total residential power consumption in 2015. It could also cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 7.2 billion tonnes.