China to Open Cutting-Edge Solar Power Highway

China to Open Cutting-Edge Solar Power HighwayChina to Open Cutting-Edge Solar Power Highway

China is set to open its first solar highway that can generate electricity from sunlight.

The two-kilometer-long stretch of highway, situated in Jinan, could charge electric cars as they are travelling on it. The two-lane road could also warm itself up in sub-zero weather to melt the snow on top - so drivers could drive on it more safely, Daily Mail reported.

The high-tech photovoltaic highway comprises the southern part of the Jinan City Expressway in the provincial capital of Shandong and is expected to open by the end of December, reported People’s Daily Online.

Formed with special weight-bearing solar panels, the road can hold medium-size vans and has strong friction.

Once completed, the highway would be connected to the power grid so it could provide electricity to the city.  

The solar highway is formed with three layers. The top layer is paved with the so-called ‘transparent concrete’, which is said to be as strong as the traditional road-surfacing material, asphalt concrete.

The middle layer is the power-generating layer consisting of solar panels. The bottom layer is the insulation layer which separates the photovoltaic system from the damp earth.

The highway is built by Qilu Transportation Development Group, a state-owned company in charge of the transport infrastructure of Shandong Province, according to Jiemian News.

In September, the group completed China’s first solar road, also in Jinan, after 10 months of construction. The road is fitted with 660 square meters of photovoltaic panels and has been connected to the power grid. Last December, France unveiled the world’s first solar panel road in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche.

The 1 km stretch of road is paved with 2,880 photovoltaic panels, covering an area of 2,800 square meters.

The road is expected to produce 280 megawatt hours of electricity a year - enough to power the village’s street lights.

Tongji University professor of transportation engineering, Zhang Hongchao, said that he hopes the solar highway can kickstart the development of a national network of smart roads that would become “mobile solar charging treasures” able to not only power vehicles but also provide preemptive technical support, manage driverless fleets and harvest big data to smooth traffic flows.


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