Power plant operator launches experiment project to build solar roads

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-03-26 17:40 Updated : 2019-03-26 17:40
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[Courtesy of SolarFLEX]

SEOUL -- An experimental road was installed outside a South Korean power station in a project to develop solar roads that can automatically charge wirelessly while an electric vehicle is running.

Korea South-East Power said Tuesday that high-performance solar modules developed by SolarFLEX have been installed on a small section of roads outside a coal-fired power station in Yeongheung. SolarFLEX provided second-generation thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cells, which are used to convert sunlight into electric power.

The power plant operator said the solar road project is aimed at developing technologies for an all-in-one solar photovoltaic road by 2020. Solar panels were installed in general road and sidewalk types, and a light emitting diode was built on the surface to display traffic signals.

The idea of replacing tarmac with solar panels has undergone road testing in other countries. Compared to rooftop solar panels, solar roads have exposed problems such as a significant drop in performance as they are not at the optimum tilt angle. They are vulnerable to shading and dirt.

Solar roads would need thicker glass than conventional panels to withstand the weight of traffic, limiting the light they can absorb. Solar Roadways, an American company, has developed a smart highway with solar panels, including sensors and LED lights to display traffic warnings. It also has heating pads to melt snow in winter.