China set to win race for first solar expressway

For nearly two years attention has been on France’s plans eventually to pave a thousand kilometres of motorway with photovoltaic panels, but with little fanfare China will open its first solar expressway this month.

The world’s first expressway to generate power from the sun is now taking shape in the city of Jinan, in eastern China’s Shandong Province, and is set to open to the public in December, state media report.

Tough enough to carry "middle size vans", the panels will pave Jinan’s city ring expressway, say reports.

As well as generating electricity, the road will be able to power electric vehicles and melt ice, and will "provide technical support to unmanned vehicles in the future", reports suggest.

China pursues infrastructure innovation rapidly, as demonstrated by its astonishing urbanisation and nationwide rollout of high-speed rail.

It may pursue solar paving with similar intensity, as the Jinan expressway follows a 160-metre-long test road in the city completed only in September (pictured). Another photovoltaic road began testing in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province in November 2017, say the reports.

France opened its first test-stretch of solar roadway in December 2016.

Other initiatives are ongoing elsewhere, such as in the US and the Netherlands.

Image: The expressway follows a 160-metre-long test road for solar paving unveiled in Jinan in September 2017 (Qilu Transportation Development Group)

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  1. Congratulations to China for its bold inititives, and in showing the rest of the world what is possible! In retrospect, the highways of the world are the most logical places to erect solar panels: no need to take up land that can be used for cultivation; no land acquisition cost (big savings); less infrastructure cost (road access and drains already in place & cables already built underneath) and the customer is just above!
    However, the news report leaves out the most important piece of information: No where is it mentioned how long is the expressway. All we read is the 160 sq meters of test panels ….. big deal!

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