Wonderful Engineering

Thieves Steal A Section Of The Newly Installed Solar Road In China

Solar panels on top of rooftops all over the world is a common sight. But solar roads are something that is not very popular yet. In China, a section of recently installed solar road was stolen. According to news, a 0.14×1.84m section of road was very carefully cut out and removed in Jinan by unknown thieves. The road was so far experimental and was installed at the end of last year. The thieves decided to go away with it as soon as 5 days after the installation. The road was repaired but the authorities are still investigating the missing road.

Cost of the solar road is quite a lot and their installation is as difficult. However, the individual components are relatively cheap. If the thieves stole it to sell it for an instant and large amount, they will be disappointed. The part that they stole is also not enough to power a house so this was a fail-fail for the thieves.

Evidence obtained from the location suggest that the road was stolen to find out the design secrets. While the technology is still new now, the plans to install solar roads are popping up all over the world. Solar roads work by combining solar panels with a transparent hard top coating. Critics said that the technology is too fragile for extreme weather conditions and is also very expensive. The world’s first solar road was opened in France in 2016. It is 1-km long and has approximately 2800 square meters of photovoltaic cells. The power generated from it is enough to power a section of the village’s street lighting.

The road was built by Colas. The company has been working on its road tech for almost 5 years under the brand name Wattway. The Wattway panels are only a few millimeters thick. This makes them easily installable over the existing bitumen or asphalt. The cost of the technology is so much that it cannot be installed everywhere. This 1-km short stretch of road cost almost 5 Million Euros. This is a very high price particularly when the technology’s ability to generate power is not proven yet. The Wattway panel boasts an average of almost 15% efficiency, however, laying the panels flat on the ground and not angled will reduce their ability to generate power.

Let’s see how far this tech will go and what steps the Chinese government will take to prevent further stealing of the solar road panels.