German Startup Wants to Get Electricity Out of Roads with Solar Panels

A startup company from Germany will trial a road surface which conceals solar panels.
Bicycle on cycle lane 2 photos
Photo: Burak Kebapci/
Solmove's vision of a photovoltaic road
The deployment is for demonstration purposes and will show that their concept of photovoltaic panels works for non-automotive paths. Solmove, a startup founded in 2012, is not the first of this kind to come up with the idea of installing solar panels under road surfaces.

Instead of developing solar panels for automotive use, the Germans at Solmove will focus on footpaths and cycle paths, where the maximum weight centered at a certain point at any given time will not come close to that of a roadway for vehicles.

Their first deployment will take place in Berlin, near the “Haus der Zukunft.” The latter means “Museum of the Future” in German, and refers to a program which was started by European authorities in several countries to motivate inventors to develop solutions for sustainable living solutions.

From recycling made easy, to renewable energy and heating, all solutions presented so far have been incorporated into each project of this type.

As Fastcoexist notes, Germany has a huge advantage over the USA when it comes to the conversion to solar power. While the United States of America does have room for “solar panel farms,” the Germans must use each possible form of the landscape to harness renewable energy, thus favoring the development of smart solutions.

Germany also plans to close all of its nuclear power plants, and also to electrify their transport solutions, so demand for more renewable energy is expected in the coming years. While other companies believe they can harness hydrogen with fuel cells to replace power plants, some focus on solar energy.

Unlike energy from the wind, solar power is easier to obtain and does not harm birds, as the panels are stationary and cannot be hit by winged creatures as they travel following gusts of wind.

An estimate revealed that it would not be enough for Germany to place solar panels on each roof, as a high population density in cities also comes with higher energy requirements, so these will not suffice.

The report stated that the estimated surface of 2/3 of Germany’s rooftops would only cover 10% of the country’s energy necessity by the middle of this century, so new solutions are being researched.

By the electrification of footpaths and cycle routes, Germany could have access to renewable energy source without the complex solutions required to sustain the weight of vehicles that cross roads with solar panels underneath.
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About the author: Sebastian Toma
Sebastian Toma profile photo

Sebastian's love for cars began at a young age. Little did he know that a career would emerge from this passion (and that it would not, sadly, involve being a professional racecar driver). In over fourteen years, he got behind the wheel of several hundred vehicles and in the offices of the most important car publications in his homeland.
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