Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Roads as solar collectors

Photo from Philip C of flickr.com, via Treehugger

Anders sent the following article in. What a great idea! Would work well with a cold climate water-to-water heat pump, or ground source heat pump, could be incorporated in new building design. I was already wondering if a greenhouse or other passive solar installation would amplify the efficiency of a cold climate air-to-air heat pump. This would have much the same effect.

Would quit in snow, though.

Dutch Company Siphoning Heat from Asphalt for Energy Uses
by Jeremy Elton Jacquot, Los Angeles
Science & Technology

While most solar enthusiasts are busy focusing on building ever larger thin-film solar farms or ever more advanced concept solar cells, others have been relying on older, though no less innovative, technologies to supply households for years now. Ooms Avenhorn Holding BV, a Dutch civil engineering company, first conceived its Road Energy System 10 years ago; back then, a technology that aimed to siphon heat from roads and parking lots to heat offices and homes probably sounded a bit eccentric, if not outlandish.

Ten years on - with climate change and renewable energies featuring much in the news and in policy discussions - their once long-shot bet is looking like a shrewd one. Their thermal energy system, which collects solar energy from a 200-yard stretch of road and a parking lot, powers a 70-unit 4-story apartment complex in the small village of Avenhorn; the heat stored from 36,000 sq ft of pavement during the summer helps keep a 160,000 sq ft-industrial park warm in the winter.

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