The George Washington University completed the first walkable solar-paneled pathway in the world this month on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus as a part of the sustainable Solar Walk project.
The landscaped pedestrian sidewalk boasts a solar-powered trellis and 27 slip-resistant semi-transparent walkable panels with photovoltaic technology that converts sunlight into electricity. The walkable solar panels are an extension of the public sidewalk between Exploration and Innovation Halls at the intersection of GW Boulevard and University Drive.
"GW is proud to announce that the Solar Walk which includes the first installation of walkable solar paneled sidewalk in the world," said GW Senior Land Use Planner Eric Selbst.
The walkable panels have a combined average of 400-watt peak capacity (Wp), the maximum amount of power that can be produced under perfect conditions. This is enough energy to power 450 LED pathway lights below the panels.
In addition to the walkable solar panels, the Solar Walk includes a solar-powered trellis designed by Studio39 Landscape Architecture. The trellis was installed at the end of the sidewalk to create energy that feeds back to Innovation Hall.
Onyx Solar, a company based in Spain, designed the walkable panels. The company is known internationally for designing and manufacturing photovoltaic materials that generate electricity from the sun, while also providing thermal and acoustic insulation and UV/IR filters.
"We are excited to explore the potential of this newly patented product and participate with Onyx in its goal of furthering unique photovoltaic technologies," Mr. Selbst said.
Onyx is also the designer and manufacturer of the largest photovoltaic integrated skylight in the U.S. at the headquarters of Novartis Pharmaceutical in East Hanover, N.J.
"The solar sidewalk is a great example of GW's commitment to innovation in design and sustainability and will be a reference for others to follow," said Onyx Solar Vice President of Business Development Diego Cuevas.
GW Campus Planning began working with Onyx in the summer of 2011 after discussions about the design with Studio39, a company that GW contracted to construct the pedestrian walkway between Innovation and Exploration Halls and the solar-powered trellis.
"This project has proven to be an exciting example of the new innovation being designed and integrated into our university," said GW Construction Project Manager Nancy Balph.
Explore further: World solar power capacity exceeds 100 gigawatts