First publishedon www.WorldHighways.com
The eastern Chinese city of Jinan has opened a 1km solar roadway section of an expressway, according to the government’s Xinhua news agency.
However, only four days after the road section was opened, thieves stole a small section of the panels that cover nearly 5,900m².
Qilu Transportation Development Group, the project developer, said the road’s panels can generate 1 million kWh of power each year, enough to meet the everyday demand of around 800 households.
But workers were back on site when it was discovered that a small chunk had gone missing. The missing section measuring only 15cm-wide and nearly 2m long appeared to be neatly cut out, according to news reports.
The section was quickly repaired. But the company reportedly said that during construction there were many interested people who were allowed to wander about the site taking pictures. It could have been an employee of a competitor to the panel manufacturer who decided to lift the section out and take it back his company’s laboratory for analysis.
Electricity produced by the test section will be used to power highway lights, signboards, surveillance cameras, tunnel and toll gate facilities. Surplus power will be supplied to the state grid, said Xu Chunfu, the group's chairman.
Future functions of solar roads might include mobile charging for electric vehicles and provision of an internet connection.
Xu did not reveal the cost of the Jinan project.
The news agency said that “China leads the world in solar power development”. Annual installed generation capacity has been the largest in the world since 2013. As of the end of September, China's installed photovoltaic capacity hit 120 gigawatts.