China’s magnificent “photovoltaic highway” failed badly as thieves stole the solar panels. The highway project is a 0.6 miles long part of road with solar panels installed to capture the sunlight. It is located in the industrial city of Jinan. The project was incepted last month but just after five days after the road was inaugurated for testing on December 28, one six feet long panel went missing. Police is still investigating and doubts it to be a heist by local thieves.
There is considerable damage on 7 adjacent solar panels done by the alleged thieves. The road was closed and access is denied.Shandong Pavenergy was overseeing the project and they are speculating that the damage was not made by hands and nor it appears to be done by some big vehicle. Chances are that the stealth was carried out by some professional team.
There were signs of corrosion by liquid on all the affected portion of solar panels. Also, there was damage on the nearby fence as well.
An anonymous employee from the company told that there were suspicious people by the road when the road was under construction. They took photographs of the site and stole valuable components. Everyone wonders why they come back to steal parts when the road is complete.
Bewilderment is there because other have to say that the situation as not as bad as shown in media. An employee from the investor company in the project has to say that the media is exaggerating the crime; damage was seen only on one small strip of the road. Uncertainity about stealth is yet there.
An aerial picture of the road was published in China Daily. There are three layers of the road. The bottom most layer is the insulating layer. Middle layer has all the photovoltaic devices. The uppermost layer is the most crucial as it provides protection and it is made up of transparent concrete.
The engineering experts say that the uppermost layer offers great flexibility that abases in withstanding extreme pressure of large vehicles while protecting the fragile amorphous silicon chips underneath it. The road is capable of generating 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. This is enough to power 800 houses. The cost of making this road is $42.5 per square foot.
Further advancements can melt the snow during winters to make driving safer and even remotely charge electric vehicles as they commute on the road.
China is currently the top solar power producer in the whole world with annual capacity generation of 78 Gigawatts, annually. US generate only 40.3 Gigawatts and ranks fourth. Japan is on second spot and Germany is on third place.
Many have labeled the project as “the first photovoltaic highway in the world” but it’s not the first time roads are used for collecting solar energy. Tourouvre-au-Perche is a French village which rolled out a similar “solar panel road” back in 2016. The road was intended for powering street lights. Jinan highway is the largest project of its kind and solar panels cover 63,200 square feet.