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I wrote yesterday:

Another use of a free, wasted byproduct to generate electricity is piezo-electric energy. “Piezo” means pressure. Anything that produces pressure can produce energy.
For example, a train station in Japan installed piezo-electric equipment in the ground, so that the foot traffic of those walking through the train station generates electricity (turnstiles at train, subway and ferry stations, ballparks and amusement parks can also generate electricity).

Similarly, all exercise machines at the gym or at home can be hooked up to produce electricity.

But perhaps the greatest untapped sources of piezo-electric energy are freeways and busy roads. If piezo-electric mats were installed under the busiest sections [a little ways under the surface], the thousands of tons of vehicles passing over each day would generate massive amounts of electricity for the city’s use.

A couple of readers thought that sounded nuts.

But as TreeHugger notes today:

Copyright TNO 2011

The Dutch are well known for their ubiquitous bike lanes, to the point where Amsterdam is neck and neck with Copenhagen for the title of most bike-loving capital in Europe. Now, Denmark will have to come up with something big to match the latest plan from the Netherlands – the installation of solar panels in roads, starting with bike lanes.

Talk about the efficient use of space: if you’re going to have roads (and hopefully you’ll have bike lanes), why not put that space to work producing energy? Called the Solaroad, the project is the brainchild of Dutch research firm TNO. The idea is pretty straightforward: a layer of concrete forms the road itself. A centimeter thick layer of crystalline silicon solar cells is laid on top, and covered by a layer of toughened glass. The energy potential: 50kWh per square meter per year, which can then be used to power street lighting, traffic systems and households.

But it’s still an idea in development, which is why TNO, working with the Province of North Holland, the consulting firm Ooms Averhorn Group and the tech firm Intech, is starting with a small-scale pilot program in the town of Krommenie, outside of Amsterdam. Scheduled for installation next year, the first Solaroad will hopefully allow its developers better implement many more throughout the country.

Now why not put a piezo-electric mat under the crystalline silicon solar cells, under the layer of toughened glass?

We’d get two different forms of energy generation at once…

Category: Energy, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

8 Responses to “We Could Make Our Roads Into Solar and Piezo-Electric Generators”

  1. rohdemap says:

    And solar panels in the roof of your van so it charges while you’re at the mall.

  2. Yah, except that these guys have obviously never driven on…..GLASS!?

    and when it rains you are driving on….wet glass!!

    I hope they are forseeing this. Surely I’m not the only one…but then I’m a driver

  3. tnoll says:

    Undoubtedly they’ll texture it. These are the same guys who design houses, anchored to piers like boat docks, to float up and down in flood areas. No worries!


  4. druce says:

    Or maybe since piezo-electric generators convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, what you gain in electric energy you lose in mileage from a soft energy absorbing road. Nature doesn’t provide too many free lunches. But if it works I’ll gladly put them in my tires and take the energy savings with me!

  5. dwkunkel says:

    Are you kidding me? The highways are difficult enough to keep maintained now.!

  6. V says:

    Certainly a good idea for a pilot programme, probably take some advances in materials science, but if maintenance costs can be kept low enough.

    I still think one of the great untapped energy sources is the blogger community.
    Some of them (at sites that remain unmentioned) tend to get fired up over certain issues.
    How about putting them all in the same building and pass a water pipe just above their heads as they are posting on unions, market manipulations, conspiracy etc

    In no time you’ll have steam spinning a turbine, don’t mention it’s a GE one though or steam output would rise to critical levels.

  7. Chad says:


    It isn’t a free lunch. The energy is already being created (or wasted in this instance), it just isn’t being collected.