The first solar cycle lane opens in Germany, to harness the power of the sun

Germany’s first solar bicycle lane could be the prototype for the roads of the future. The photovoltaic tiles melt snow and ice, and are capable of absorbing noise.

Germany inaugurated its first solar cycle lane in November. A 90-metre track made up of 150 solar modules that look like cobblestones located in Erftstadt, in the south-western part of the city of Koln.

prima pista ciclabile solare germania erftstad
The bycicle lane in Erftstadt, Germany, is composed of slip-resistant photovoltaic tiles that can melt snow and ice

Some of the characteristics of this bicycle lane are that it’s capable of reducing noise as well as melting snow and ice, which limits maintenance costs especially during the winter. According to Donald Muller-Judex, creator of this ambitious project, every square metre costs approximately 250 euros: the Erftstadt bei Koln cycling lane cost just shy of 50,000 euros.

Germany’s first solar cycle lane as a prototype for the roads of the future?

The short course created with photovoltaic tiles will be able to provide the local electricity network with a stunning 16,000 kilowatts a year, that is to say 80 for every square metre of the 200 that make up the Erftstadt cycling lane.

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The photovoltaic tiles are made with a dark blue glass so durable that it can withstand the weight of a truck, whilst their peculiar structure will prevent bicycles from slipping as they cross the tiles. This means that this technology could be applied to roads and motorways in the future: calculations made by the company Solmove predict that if German roads were covered with solar tiles they could generate the energy needed to power 20 million electric cars.

This could be a historic innovation if it’s made to coincide with other technological advancements like recharging batteries through induction, putting sensors in the cells of solar tiles to measure traffic flows and optimise traffic lights, all the way to the organisation of traffic by using autonomous vehicles.

Solar energy from the Erftstadt cycle lane as an alternative to coal from the Hambach forest

This bike lane close to Koln also plays a political role, since it’s approximately a half hour drive from the Hambach forest. This is the area protected by activists who, at one point, were living in the trees to prevent them from being chopped down for the expansion of coal extraction. The 90-metre-long photovoltaic lane in Erfstadt could pave the way for solar technology applied to bicycle lanes, roads and roofs, becoming an alternative energy source to the lignite from Hambach forest.

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