Netherlands Builds First Solar Bicycle Lane

January 31, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. lane /leɪn/ (n.) – a narrow road; a path 
Example: In the morning, people often jog on the lanes in the park.

2. suburb /ˈsʌb ɜrb/ (n.) – an area where a small community or neighborhood lives
Example: She can tour her whole suburb by just riding her bike.

3. grid /grɪd/ (n.) – a large metal structure that distributes electricity to an area
Example: The grids were destroyed so we had no electricity for a month.

4. pilot /ˈpaɪ lət/ (adj.) – referring to an experimental version of something
Example: He used a toy car as a pilot project for the flying car he plans to build. 

5. functionality /ˈfʌŋk ʃə næl ɪ ti/ (n.) – the condition of serving a specific purpose in a practical manner
Example: A bike has good functionality when traveling a crowded market place.


Read the text below.
The Netherlands is working to achieve renewable energy efficiency with the recent installation of the world’s first solar bike path. 

In November 2014, Dutch physicists and engineers introduced the SolaRoad, a 70-meter bicycle lane that can generate solar energy. The lane is made with rows of technological blocks of solar panels, measuring 2.5 by 3.5 meters. Each solar panel consists of several solar cells. It is protected with concrete housing and a surface layer of hardened glass. The blocks are also slightly tilted to receive more sunlight exposure and to prevent gathering of dirt and water.

The SolaRoad was placed on a bike path between two suburbs near Amsterdam.  According to the developers, one of the reasons why this is an ideal testing location is that it is frequently used by cyclists. More importantly, the path is well-exposed to sunlight. Currently, the solar lane produces 30 percent less power compared to solar roofs. Despite this, it was able to produce 140,000 watts in its first 16 days.

The electricity produced by the SolaRoad currently goes to the national grid. However, the developers are hoping to enhance the solar lane as a power source for street and traffic-control lights, and electric transportations. It may also serve as power storage for emergency use in the future.

At present, the solar lane is still a pilot project. It will continue to operate for the next two years, during which the developers will study and explore its functionalities and limitations.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think it was wise to use a bike path for the SolaRoad? Why or why not?
·         Would you want SolaRoads in your country? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Aside from roofs and bicycle lanes, where else can we build solar panels to generate more renewable energy? Please explain your answer.
·         In your opinion, is using bicycles better than taking buses or cars? Why or why not? 

January 31, 2015