A 70 metre test track in Amsterdam embedded with solar panels has generated more than 3000kwh, enough to power a house for a whole year. The result is much better than expected.
The road is made up of rows of crystalline silicon solar cells, encased within concrete and with a translucent layer of tempered glass overlaid. The top layer is dirt-repellent to guarantee maximum exposure to sunlight by keeping the surface clean.
The solar panels are connected to smart meters, which optimise their output and feed the electricity either to street lighting or to the grid.
So far, approximately 150,000 cyclists have ridden over the road and, if trials go well, the companies working on the project are thinking of developing solar panels that could withstand large buses and vehicles.
There is a similar initiative in the US, the Solar Roadways project.
Researchers at Newcastle and Durham Universities have concluded that European shales are too complex for fracking;
“It is clear there are very few European countries in which fracking is likely to happen any time soon, if at all. Many apparently prospective European shales have turned out to be more geologically complicated than expected.
Much remains to be understood about how shales form, how they vary, and how they behave when fracked. Europe’s shales were always going to be different to those of North America. To major companies, they now look a great deal less enticing. Nonetheless, it is crucial that fracking research continues. A good understanding of shale geology is still in its infancy. If fracking is to take place anywhere in Europe, baseline environmental information from potential fracking sites needs to be collected, analysed, and made publicly available, along with long-term monitoring data”
However fracking in UK National Parks is equally unlikely. “Some national parks have no shales or coal within them or adjacent to them, so are of no interest to fracking companies. Many other national parks do contain shales or coal, but their nature means that they are unlikely to yield economic quantities of oil or gas.”
Earlier this year the EU announced funding of £8.6m to study the environmental impact of fracking, and the risks of chemicals and gases being dispersed below the ground.