China is set to open its first solar motorway that can generate electricity under sunlight.
The two-kilometre-long (1.2 miles) stretch of highway, situated in Jinan, could charge electric cars as they are travelling on it.
The two-lane road could also warm itself up in sub-zero weather to melt the snow on top so drivers could drive on it more safely.
The high-tech photovoltaic highway comprises the southern part of the Jinan City Expressway in the provincial capital of Shandong and is expected to open by the end of December.
Formed with special weight-bearing solar panels, the road can hold medium-size vans and has strong friction.
Once it’s completed, the highway would be connected to the power grid so it could provide electricity to the city.
The solar highway is formed with three layers.
The top layer is paved with the so-called ‘transparent concrete’, which is said to be as strong as the traditional road-surfacing material, asphalt concrete.
The middle layer is the power-generating layer consisting of solar panels.
The bottom layer is the insulation layer which separates the photovoltaic system from the damp earth.
High-tech system: The highway has ‘transparent concrete’ on top, solar panels in the middle and insulation at the bottom
The highway is built by Qilu Transportation Development Group, a state-owned company in charge of the transport infrastructure of Shandong Province.
In September, the group completed China’s first solar road, also in Jinan, after 10 months of construction. The road is fitted with 660 square metres (7,104 square feet) of photovoltaic panels and has been connected to the power grid.
Last December, France unveiled the world’s first solar panel road in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche.
The 1km (0.6-mile) stretch of road is paved with 2,880 photovoltaic panels, covering an area of 2,800 square metres (9,186 square feet).
The road is expected to produce 280 MWh of electricity a year – enough to power the village’s street lights.