Science

University creates "world's first walkable solar panel pathway"

University creates "world's fi...
The university's first-of-its-kind Solar Walk (Photo: The George Washington University)
The university's first-of-its-kind Solar Walk (Photo: The George Washington University)
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The Solar Walk, with the trellis behind it (Photo: The George Washington University)
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The Solar Walk, with the trellis behind it (Photo: The George Washington University)
The university's first-of-its-kind Solar Walk (Photo: The George Washington University)
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The university's first-of-its-kind Solar Walk (Photo: The George Washington University)
The walkable PV floor panels (Photo: Onyx Solar)
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The walkable PV floor panels (Photo: Onyx Solar)
The panels have an anti-slip surface (Photo: Onyx Solar)
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The panels have an anti-slip surface (Photo: Onyx Solar)

We typically see photovoltaic panels up on roofs, as they're broad, open surfaces that receive a lot of sunlight. You know what else spends a lot of time in the scorching sun, though? Sidewalks. With that in mind, a team at Washington DC's The George Washington University has created what is claimed to be "the first walkable solar-paneled pathway in the world."

The 100 sq ft (9.3 sq m) rectangular Solar Walk was made using walkable PV floor panels manufactured by Spanish tech company Onyx Solar. Designed to be walked on, each solar energy-harvesting panel has an anti-slip surface and can support a load of up to 400 kg (882 lb).

The path, designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology, incorporates 27 of the translucent panels which together have a peak capacity of 400 watts. That's enough to illuminate an array of 450 LEDs that light the pathway at night, shining up through the panels from beneath. It also includes a trellis that hosts additional solar panels on top.

Studio39 Landscape Architecture built the Solar Walk, which can be found on the George Washington's Virginia Science and Technology Campus.

Sources: The George Washington University, Onyx Solar via World Architecture News

23 comments
Grunchy
I bet everybody reading this had the exact same thought: "how about solar roads then?"
Bob Flint
Solar roads have already been proposed, it's the gum and other crude that will get stuck to to the sidewalks.
Wombat56
No, I was thinking "why don't they raise it above the sidewalk and provide some useful shade".
Slowburn
How much energy is lost to shadows and dirt. Proof that no mater how bad the idea there is somebody willing to try it.
Rt1583
"The 100 sq ft (9.3 sq m) rectangular Solar Walk was made using walkable PV floor panels manufactured by Spanish tech company Onyx Solar. " Doesn't this mean that the Spanish tech company came up with "the first walkable solar-paneled pathway in the world."
Silverbird
@Slowburn "Proof that no mater how bad the idea there is somebody willing to try it" The potential of this product is not limited to sidewalks covered by trees. I know here in Texas, a vast majority of sidewalks are not covered and the nearest tree could be 500ft away.
Julien Fournier
First?? I thought Solar Roadways prototypes were the first ...
Slowburn
@ Silverbird People cast shadows and leave dirty footprints.
Richard Dicky Riddlebarger
I would like to try these out on my dock and float.
myale
Hmm so how have they solved the shadows and dirt issue I guess you can use some fance electrics or diodes to stop shadowing being an issue a total issue and I guess not 100% of the path would be in shadow perhaps. So dirt and wear - thats a more interesting one - is the surface gorilla glass or soemthing - lol never tried to walk on a mobile phone or table to see what would happen to the glass - guess could use a replable film - but then is the film more expensive than the energy - guess there must be a solution out there..... Still love the LED in the pavement idea - could do a certain michail jackson number lol.