Solar Roads: Why Students at Solar Energy Technician College are Intrigued by this Modern ConceptJune 05, 2018
Solar energy can revolutionize the way we handle global power needs, but there are some inefficiencies which hold it back. It’s an energy source that relies heavily on space, and landowners may be skeptical about using their property for the construction of vast amounts of solar panels. That has prompted a rethink in the renewable energy sector, and one particular suggestion has gathered momentum in recent years. Why not give roads a dual purpose? Transportation and energy production.
Entrepreneurs are attempting to integrate solar panels into the road surface, thus producing power for homes, businesses or public infrastructure. This requires a complete rethink in road building processes, and there are many concerns which must be addressed before it’s likely to become a common sight in everyday life. Here’s a quick guide to what this innovative technology is all about.
The Three Layer Process Behind Solar Road Technology
The engineering associated with solar road construction involves much more than just placing solar panels on existing road surfaces. Such panels don’t have the necessary properties to make them a safe driving surface. Instead, designers create special panels that combine three layers of technology. The top layer is made of robust, transparent glass so it can deal with road traffic. Sunlight travels through the glass, and can then be gathered by a layer of solar panels underneath. The base layer then contains the technology to collect and distribute the power through an electricity system.
Solar panels are installed under a tough glass road surface
As well as the obvious long-term potential for cost savings, students at solar energy technician college should note the additional benefits. Lighting could be integrated into the technology to improve safety on the roads, while heat generation can also help to keep surfaces snow and ice free throughout the year.
The Drawbacks Which Concern Professionals with Solar Energy Technician Training
Consider the last solar panel which you have seen, and it’s very likely that it was installed at an angle. This is done to capture as much sunlight as possible, and it’s a feature which encourages skepticism about this new technology. Roads are designed to be flat, so it may not be the optimum means of collecting energy from the sun. Safety is also a major concern, because this glassy surface is unlikely to offer the same level of grip as stone. The possibility of increased road collisions creates nervousness about this new concept.
The cost of installation and repairs are also much higher compared to conventional road surfaces. Long-term savings are possible, but it remains an expensive technology while it is in its infancy. However, the necessity for professionals with solar energy technician training during construction does mean that it will open up exciting job opportunities.
Solar Roads Could Play a Key Role in Overcoming the Energy Crisis
Despite these drawbacks, there is no doubt that fresh thinking is needed to create a renewably powered world. Experimentation with solar road projects has eventually led to the creation of a one-kilometre stretch of highway in China which opened late last year, while other solar roads have also been tested in France and the USA.
Even if this concept doesn’t work out, there are alternatives which may offer more hope. Solar walkways don’t carry the same safety risk, and are easier to install. Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia introduced such technology on its campus last year to ease power costs. These baby steps in solar technology could eventually turn into great strides as the world attempts to turn away from fossil fuels.
Open up fascinating job opportunities at solar energy technician school.
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