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    18 May '15 10:089 edits
    I always thought it is an excellent idea to collect and use much of the solar energy that strikes roads and paths which is normally otherwise just completely wasted.

    Here is a scheme in Netherlands to do just that and which sounds like it is quite promising:

    http://phys.org/news/2015-05-solaroad-path-electricity-yield.html

    The link doesn't say how long it takes before the electricity generated from it pays for the extra setup costs over and above the costs of making the same path/road without solar panels ingrained into it. Perhaps it has already economically payed for itself!? I do wonder. I wish I knew of an easy way to find out. But, even if in this case it would take a very long time to pay for itself, one must bear in mind that the improvements in the design of solar panels are making them more and more cost effective all the time and it would be just a matter of time before installing solar panels into roads and paths would make them more than pay for them selves in less than, say, just 3 months! So it seems pretty obvious to me that, even in areas which receive relatively less natural light (such as in rather cloudy climates ), virtually all roads and paths will eventually have solar panels ingrained in them in the far future; apart from paths and roads that go underground, of course.
  2. Cape Town
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    18 May '15 11:34
    Originally posted by humy
    I always thought it is an excellent idea to collect and use much of the solar energy that strikes roads and paths which is normally otherwise just completely wasted.
    And I have never really understood such reasoning. Virtually all sunlight is pretty much wasted. There is nothing particularly unique about roads and paths in this regard. It certainly doesn't seem like a particularly good argument for placing solar panels there.

    It makes more sense to look at all suitable places for solar panels and choose the most cost effective overall. Sunlight being wasted seems to be the least of the consideration one should take into account. Its not like there is a shortage of sunlight.
  3. Subscribersonhouse
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    18 May '15 11:46
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    And I have never really understood such reasoning. Virtually all sunlight is pretty much wasted. There is nothing particularly unique about roads and paths in this regard. It certainly doesn't seem like a particularly good argument for placing solar panels there.

    It makes more sense to look at all suitable places for solar panels and choose the most co ...[text shortened]... of the consideration one should take into account. Its not like there is a shortage of sunlight.
    One problem to get around: The more cars on the road, the less electric power is produced because the cars shadow the roadway.
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    18 May '15 13:095 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Virtually all sunlight is pretty much wasted. There is nothing particularly unique about roads and paths in this regard.

    except putting solar panels there wouldn't mean they are competing for space for agriculture, industry, forestry, etc.
    If we limit ourselves to putting the solar panels where the least amount of solar panel area does the most amount of good, then I guess we would be giving south-facing roofs priority. But putting them only there may not be enough to go 100% renewable and I see roads and paths as a good secondary option after when (or "if" rather than "when", given we are not too smart ) we finally run out of space for solar panels on the ideal roof-top locations (although we are far from doing that yet, that just shows that we are not smart. I am thinking here in terms of the very LONG term )

    Sunlight being wasted seems to be the least of the consideration one should take into account.

    no, I wasn’t implying we should use it because it is wasted! I was just saying.
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    18 May '15 13:11
    Or the UK can build ~60 buildings and not take up any land to generate all it's electrical needs CO2 free.
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    18 May '15 13:302 edits
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    One problem to get around: The more cars on the road, the less electric power is produced because the cars shadow the roadway.
    I think we can almost rule out putting them on the worst congested roads and also on the sides of the roads of those roads where people tend to keep their cars parked. But, for example, I see plenty of smaller roads in my neighborhood that are rarely congested and don't often have lots of parked cars and they get plenty of sun striking their surface despite the occasional car and it is those kinds of roads that I think should be given priority for this scheme.

    And then, of course, there are plenty of sunny foot paths.
  7. Cape Town
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    18 May '15 14:54
    Originally posted by humy
    except putting solar panels there wouldn't mean they are competing for space for agriculture, industry, forestry, etc.
    Sure, but agriculture, industry and forestry land is hardly the only places that the sun shines.

    If we limit ourselves to putting the solar panels where the least amount of solar panel area does the most amount of good, then I guess we would be giving south-facing roofs priority.
    Yes. Which is why we are mostly doing that.

    But putting them only there may not be enough to go 100% renewable and I see roads and paths as a good secondary option after when (or "if" rather than "when", given we are not too smart ) we finally run out of space for solar panels on the ideal roof-top locations (although we are far from doing that yet, that just shows that we are not smart. I am thinking here in terms of the very LONG term )
    Exactly. So the whole 'sunlight is being wasted' argument simply doesn't hold up. Lets fill up those roof tops and other suitable locations first and then see where next. Roads and pathways may work out but they are far from perfect.
    Pros:
    * Construction is necessary anyway, so if the solar panels can share the costs then there may be some savings. but you would have to show that road + solar panel as a single unit costs less than road + solar panel separately.
    * Lack of other suitable space in the future when all rooftops / car parks have been used up.
    Cons:
    * Ownership. It would probably end up being government or utility owned rather than owned by individuals which is a more democratic outcome for solar. Government and utility owned solar is probably more economic in large solar farm type facilities.
    * Location: most roads and paths where I live are shaded much of the time and thus would be a terrible place to put solar panels.
    * Cost?: it may work out more expensive than other options.
    * Efficiency: how to keep them clean?
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    18 May '15 15:541 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    [b]
    So the whole 'sunlight is being wasted' argument
    I made no such 'argument'. I merely said that that energy is normally wasted, not that the mere fact that it is wasted is a reason to use it.
  9. Standard memberDeepThought
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    18 May '15 16:13
    Originally posted by humy
    except putting solar panels there wouldn't mean they are competing for space for agriculture, industry, forestry, etc.
    If we limit ourselves to putting the solar panels where the least amount of solar panel area does the most amount of good, then I guess we would be giving south-facing roofs priority. But putting them only there may not be enough to go 100% re ...[text shortened]... /quote]
    no, I wasn’t implying we should use it because it is wasted! I was just saying.
    Businesses have roofs, I don't see that solar power would particularly be competing with industry for space. Also the electricity would be generated where it is used leading to less loss in transmission.
  10. Cape Town
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    18 May '15 17:52
    Originally posted by humy
    I made no such 'argument'. I merely said that that energy is normally wasted, not that the mere fact that it is wasted is a reason to use it.
    OK.

    I don't object to solar panels in roads or paths. I do object to projects promoted for their hype value when they take away from what we really should be doing. Also, I far too often hear the refrain that we do not have enough space for solar panels therefore we should give up on solar. I realize that that is not what you said at all, but it is part of the reason why I responded so strongly.
  11. Subscribersonhouse
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    18 May '15 21:17
    Originally posted by DeepThought
    Businesses have roofs, I don't see that solar power would particularly be competing with industry for space. Also the electricity would be generated where it is used leading to less loss in transmission.
    I saw one building covered with about one acre of PV's and it generated only about 18 kilowatts on a 24/7 basis, say 50 Kw peak but that only for a few hours of peak sunlight.
    That might be enough for a small business but our business here, our feed is a quarter MEGAWATT because we have some pretty energy intensive machines, furnaces that get up to 1000 degrees C and so forth so paving the whole roof would be a drop in the bucket for this particular company.
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    18 May '15 22:44
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I saw one building covered with about one acre of PV's and it generated only about 18 kilowatts on a 24/7 basis, say 50 Kw peak but that only for a few hours of peak sunlight.
    That might be enough for a small business but our business here, our feed is a quarter MEGAWATT because we have some pretty energy intensive machines, furnaces that get up to 1000 de ...[text shortened]... and so forth so paving the whole roof would be a drop in the bucket for this particular company.
    Out of curiosity...
    What energy source do you use for the furnaces?
  13. Cape Town
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    19 May '15 07:36
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    That might be enough for a small business but our business here, our feed is a quarter MEGAWATT because we have some pretty energy intensive machines, furnaces that get up to 1000 degrees C and so forth so paving the whole roof would be a drop in the bucket for this particular company.
    You need to relocate the company to an area suitable for geothermal power.

    You could still cover the roof with solar. One drop is better than none.
  14. Joined
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    19 May '15 10:22
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    You need to relocate the company to an area suitable for geothermal power.

    You could still cover the roof with solar. One drop is better than none.
    Yes because that's totally practical.

    Lets site all our industry over volcanoes. 😕

    Or we can build nuclear reactors and bring the power to the industry.
  15. Cape Town
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    19 May '15 10:261 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Lets site all our industry over volcanoes. 😕

    Or we can build nuclear reactors and bring the power to the industry.
    I can see you work for the nuclear power industry. Or you are seriously ignorant about geothermal power.

    And I might point out that what I suggested has been put into practice by the aluminium smelting industry. But you don't have to go to Iceland to find suitable sites for geothermal energy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_power_in_the_United_Kingdom
    Deep geothermal resources could provide 9.5GW of baseload renewable electricity – equivalent to nearly nine nuclear power stations – which could generate 20% of the UK’s current annual electricity consumption;
    Deep geothermal resources could provide over 100GW of heat, which could supply sufficient heat to meet the space heating demand in the UK;
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