Friday, 8 May 2015

Beatiful Photos Of Hitachi Kaihin Park, Japan

Covering an area of 190 hectares, the park features blooming flowers around the year.[1] The park has become known for its baby blue-eyesflowers, with the blooming of 4.5 million of the translucent-petaled blue flowers in the spring drawing tourists. In addition to the annual "Nemophila Harmony", the park features a million daffodils, 170 varieties of tulips, and many other flowers. The park includes cycling trails and a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel.
Mass planting of Bassia scoparia turning colour in Autumn.
Rock in Japan Festival 2009

Tulips in April

Baby blue eyes in April

Ferris wheel at the Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki, Japan

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Netherlands has laid the world’s first solar road – we go eyes-on to investigate

Earlier this week, the first solar roadway opened in Amsterdam — a 70-meter stretch of cycle path between two suburbs of the city that generates solar power from rugged, textured glass-covered photovoltaic cells. My significant other, Jessica Hall, happens to be spending a semester in Amsterdam and was willing to trek out to the Krommenie-Wormerveer cross-connection to see this solar roadway in action.
Below, we’ll answer some common questions people have raised about the projects and the road itself. One thing to know about the Netherlands is that biking is huge there, despite the wet, maritime climate. Building a solar bike path isn’t a throwaway gesture as it is in the United States, and the bike path itself, as you’ll see, is laned like a modern road. This project is built by SolaRoad — it’s different from the crowdfunded Solar Roadways project that we wrote about earlier this year.
Solar road -- long view
At present, only 70 meters of a planned 100 meters has been completed and only one side. This stretch of path is bathed in consistent sunlight for most of the day, making it a good test case for the project. In the image above, the solar road is on the left, the traditional concrete is on the right.

Size and composition

One of the questions readers have raised is what traction could be like on a solar roadbed. According to Jess, the road is heavily textured and bumpy to the point that she’d be less afraid of wiping out on concrete than on the solar section.

The difference is clearly visible even while standing. Here’s the closeup version.
The solar road and the standard concrete were the same temperature, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us much — it was cloudy early in the day when these photos were taken, and the sun hadn’t been out very long that afternoon. The solar surface is embedded below the glass/epoxy outer layer.
With texturing like that, you’d expect the surface to grip well — and it does. It’s effectively impossible to slip on the surface. Amsterdam has a maritime climate, which means it rains frequently in winter but snow is less common and heavy snowfall is rare. (Your definition of what constitutes heavy snowfall will depend on where you live, obviously).

Reflectance, wear-and-tear

One interesting question readers had raised is whether or not these new roads are more reflective than previous surfaces. They definitely are — though whether this will be a problem for riders is unclear.
You can clearly see reflections in the road surface, and these are visible (albeit less clearly) even in the cloudier photos.
One reason installing these solar panels on a bike path makes more sense than a traditional road is the wear-and-tear expected on the road itself. According to studies, one reasonable method of estimating road wear is the so-called fourth-power law, which states that the damage a vehicle causes to a road surface is related to the fourth power of its axle weight. Speed and tire pressure all play a part, but the end result is that cars are at least several thousand times more damaging to a road surface than bikes, and trucks are thousands of times more damaging than cars. A solar road surface for a bike path is thus under orders of magnitude less stress than a vehicular road surface.
For now, the entire project is a proof-of-concept demonstration. Plenty of people who are otherwise enthusiastic proponents of solar power are dubious of embedding panels into roadways, and we’ll have to wait and see how this solution performs under real-world conditions to draw conclusions. Nonetheless, it’s impossible to draw conclusions untilsomeone does the testing — so kudos to Amsterdam (and Jess Hall) for taking the plunge on an idea and serving as remote photojournalist, respectively.

Solar Freakin’ Roadways This Invention Will Change The World, Just Watch

Take a solar panel. Surround it with light-emitting diodes attached to a microprocessor and, in northern climes at least, some kind of heater. Sheath all of that with the 100-year-old technology known as tempered glass. Voila: the basic building block of what has been dubbed by its creators, electrical engineer Scott Brusaw and his wife Julie, a solar roadway. It could one day make for a highway built of 0.4 –square-meter hexagonal panels, a hodge podge of green circuit boards surrounding 36-watts worth of blue solar panels, all covered in thick, bumpy glass for safety and traction.
The idea is to put unused roadway to good use (generating electricity) while also providing an electronic means for lane shifts, driver messages and other utilities. Bonus: solar roadways obviate the need for an electric grid by including a “Cable Corridor” right in the side of the roadway that eliminates the need for power lines running alongside it. And if outfitted with sensors as well the solar highway could transmit real time traffic data or other information of interest. The novel idea has been around for a few years now, bursting back into prominence this summer thanks to a new crowdfunding campaign to support further research and development that garnered $2.2 million before closing on June 20.
The solar roadway already exists, or at least an 11-meter-long solar parking lot outside the Brusaw backyard lab in Idaho made up of 108 of the prototype panels. That’s the equivalent of a 3.6 kilowatt solar array, capable of producing roughly 14 kilowatt-hours of electricity per day, or roughly half the electricity use of a typical U.S. home.
solar-roadway-parking-lotAs this prototype demonstrates, the Brusaws don’t have to start with roads—patios, parking lots or sidewalks, among other currently paved surfaces, might make for a more feasible starting point. But, in the long run, the vision is to take the continental U.S.’s roughly 75,000 square kilometers of road and turn it into a massive solar farm to replace the nation’s need for fossil fuel-fired power plants, thus solving climate change and energy security issues in one go. Even better, the solar roadways pair nicely with the need of electric cars for ubiquitous charging wherever the vehicles may go.
 sandpoint-idaho-with-solar-roadThe Brusaw’s hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho and surrounding communities have already signed up to host future prototypes on sidewalks, parking lots, airport tarmacs, even train station passenger platforms. The goal of such testing is to prove that such panels can last for 20 years while supporting weights of more than 100,000 kilograms.
There are, however, a few challenges to overcome. What happens to the solar roads at night or on a cloudy day, when the PV is not generating electricity to power homes or cities? The Brusaws’ answer is to draw power from the grid, presumably from flexible generators, such as natural gas-burning combined cycle turbines or hydropower projects with the room to store water for a dark night (though Brusaw told me he expects wind turbines to fill this role back in 2009. He did not respond to repeated requests for an interview this time around.) As presently designed, the LEDs and heating elements are disconnected from the photovoltaics, meaning these elements require electricity from the grid 24/7. The heaters alone require more power than the available PV in the hexagon can supply.
solar-road-glassThen there’s the materials challenge posed by the novel use of glass. This glass must be tempered, self-cleaning, and capable of transmitting light to the PV below under trying conditions, among other characteristics—a type of glass that does not yet exist. And that’s just the glass. There’s the additional challenges posed by putting together photovoltaics, LEDs and other components, not unlike a smartphone but one that will be run over by trucks.
Finally, there’s the problem that these 50 United States barely maintain asphalt roads, crumbling highways and unafe overpasses and bridges as it is. U.S. roads are essentially run to failure(i.e. as poorly maintained as possible) so how will any city, state or federal government pay any amount more to put in a solar road rather than paving with asphalt? It’s not just that the panel is more expensive than pavement, it’s the additional expense of maintenance, replacing the inevitable defects and generally tending a technological jumble subjected to the brutal pounding of daily traffic and weather, among other stresses.
solar-road-LEDsOf course, that pounding can also be put to use via the piezoelectric effect. But that’s a whole ‘nother yellow brick roadway—and a technology that the Brusaws are also considering incorporating into their solar road panel.
Credit: All images courtesy of Solar Roadways

 Artist's rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho - Home of Solar Roadways
Graphic design by Sam Cornett 

 Artist's rendition of downtown Sandpoint sidewalk
Graphic design by Sam Cornett