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FEATURE SOLAR


Wattway installed an experimental solar road in Normandy, France, last year


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undergoing durability tests in an effort to meet or exceed the warranty periods of commercial-grade insulated glass units (IGUs) installed on tall towers. Durability determines product lifecycle, an important feature to the commercial adoption of SolarWindow products for generating electricity on glass windows. ‘We will be performing a number of additional tests to demonstrate reliability, durability, and degradation performance during upcoming phases of product development,’ Conklin said. ‘Our goal is to develop SolarWindow


coatings that not only exceed performance of a commercial window warranty, but to be competitive with the performance duration of conventional crystalline silica and thin- film solar PV modules,’ he added.


Walking on sunshine Urban environments are not just filled with glass-laden buildings; road networks could provide another solar energy opportunity, as Sten de Wit, innovator at solar road specialist company SolaRoad, explained: ‘When we integrate solar technology in roads, the potential for solar electricity production in urban areas will grow substantially without claiming any extra


space, without disturbing the environment or nature. [It’s] simply in the roads that we build and use anyway.’ The transport of energy is also not an issue with this application, as de Wit added: ‘Moreover, as roads typically connect and cross our built environment where we consume electricity, a solar road network is not only a large scale, but also a decentralised source of green electricity, generating the energy close to where it is consumed.’ SolaRoad has been running a pilot


project on a bike road in Krommenie near Amsterdam since 2014. De Wit said: ‘In parallel, we have been developing and improving our technology, with input from the experiences of the pilot. In October 2016, we extended the bike road with the improved technology, to test it in practice. Currently, we are developing towards a


“When we integrate solar technology in roads, the potential for solar electricity production in urban areas will grow substantially without claiming any extra space, without disturbing the environment or nature”


product that can be mass produced for large-scale application on bike roads.’ The Netherlands has around 30,000km


of bike paths, representing a significant opportunity for solar integration in the future. But in addition to bike paths, SolaRoad is also looking to incorporate the technology into regular roads, according to de Wit: ‘A much larger potential for this


technology lies in the application on regular roads. We are currently developing the SolaRoad technology for this purpose. Pilot projects on regular roads are scheduled for 2018.’ Over in France, an experimental solar


panel road opened last year in a Normandy village. The trial site incorporates 2,880 photovoltaic panels and the estimated electrical output is 767kWh per day, with peaks of up to 1,500kWh per day in the summer months. Such pilot sites enable the company behind this technology, Wattway, to keep on improving the panels in terms of cost, explained Philippe Harelle, CTO of Wattway. ‘A cost reduction will especially be possible thanks to the industrialisation of the panels, the mechanisation of the installation and also simpler electrical connections,’ he said. Wattway uses regular photovoltaic cells


that are coated in a multilayer substrate composed of resins and polymers. Any kind of change to standard photovoltaic cells can potentially be coated in this multilayer substrate, making this a highly versatile technology for the photonics sector.


Solar spray A solar spray is another highly versatile and promising alternative solar technology. Researchers at St Mary’s College of Maryland are developing such spray-on solar cell technology. Dr Townsend said: ‘We envision an inexpensive way of quickly spraying large area solar modules onto roads, roofs, cars, and so on. This would dramatically reduce the price of solar by reducing the installation and fabrication costs, making solar more attainable for the average person.’ The technology uses inorganic materials,


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Wattway


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