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Source: Twitter

China Unveils World's First Solar-Powered Highway

By Tessa Love

As solar power becomes increasingly popular, there's one issue standing in the way of its widespread adoption: space. Erecting enough solar panels to effectively offset the use of fossil fuel-based energies requires a lot of sunlit space, and that often gets in the way of other necessary developments—in rural areas, solar farms can displace food farms, and in urban areas, the space is either already taken by buildings or needs to be reserved for more. 

Creative solutions to this problem are beginning to pop up, such as solar fields that double as farms for shade-happy agriculture, panels that look like normal roof tiles, floating solar farms that sit atop the ocean or other bodies of water, or, most recently, a solar paneled highway. 

Built in Jinan, the capital of China’s Shandong Province, the solar panel highway stretches one kilometer (.62 miles) and contains over 10,000 photovoltaic panels. The panels convert sunlight into electricity just like any other solar panels and functions just like a normal road, if not better—the paneled road is said to have safety standards that surpass that of traditional asphalt highways. The highway can handle 10 times more pressure than a normal asphalt road and will generate 1 million kWH of electricity a year.