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Dutch put solar panels in bike path

A project dubbed SolaRoad gets under way in the Netherlands this week, testing road surfaces as a potential canvas to collect solar energy.

Fittingly for the cycle-crazy Dutch, the first SolaRoad is a bike path not far from Amsterdam.

The path is built of large modules of solar panels, each with heavy-duty glass protecting them from wear. An additional rough translucent plastic coating on top ensures cyclists do not slip.

Sten de Wit, of engineering firm TNO, said each square metre of road generates 50-70 kilowatt hours of energy per year - about enough for the initial 70-metre test to power one house.

The three-year test project will cost three million euros (£2.3 million). Mr De Wit says that as solar cells get cheaper, solar roads will enjoy economies of scale.

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