- A ‘solar-super highway’ between Hangzhou and Ningbo is expected to be open to the public in 2022
- This new highway is paved with solar panels, mapping sensors and battery chargers to power cars as they drive
As an intelligent transport system, the solar-super highway fits into three of the priority sectors in the “Made in China 2025” plan, namely new-energy vehicles, information technology and robotics.
The highway will be six-lanes wide, 161km long, and is expected to allow cars to travel up to 120km/h. The solar panels, mapping sensors and chargers will be located beneath transparent concrete that will allow the sun to reach the panels. The solar panels are expected to have sufficient power to light the highway as well as 800 homes. The electricity generated will power electric vehicles passing over the road through photovoltaic cells.
The highway will contain sensors that provide information to vehicles driving over it to reduce accidents. China forecasts that at least 10% of vehicles will be driverless in 2030, and this highway is one of the ways in which it is preparing for driverless vehicles.
The speed that vehicles travel along the highway is expected to increase on average by 20 – 30% through smart system and vehicle management. For instance, the sensors embedded beneath the concrete should be able to realise ideal safety conditions, which will also reduce congestion. Vehicles will be fitted with chips to allow for “speed-through tolls” instead of queuing to pay their tolls.
While this is a significant move forward, China needs to find a way to secure the expensive technology as when it tested a 1km section in Jinan, a section of the road was stolen.
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