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Someone Stole Panels From China's New Solar Road

Popular Mechanics logo Popular Mechanics 1/9/2018 Avery Thompson

China has been leading the world in construction of solar energy plants, building dozens of new solar farms over the past few years. In addition to building standard solar farms, the country has also been experimenting with more innovative ways to draw energy from the sun. Recently, the city of Jinan built China’s very first solar road, which lasted about a week until someone stole it.

The road opened on December 28, and on January 2 an inspection team noticed a piece of the road was missing. The piece was small, measuring only 6 inches wide and 6 feet long, and was cleanly cut, suggesting someone deliberately removed it.

Although the solar panels aren’t really expensive enough to justify stealing, it’s possible the thieves wanted to steal the technology, rather than the solar panels themselves. With a solar panel in hand, the thieves could replicate the design and sell cheaper knock-off panels.

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Solar roads elsewhere in the world do exist, but they’re not very common. They're expensive to build and maintain, and in most cases, it’s easier to build a standard solar farm instead. In general, solar roads are a bad idea, now add theft to the growing "cons" column.

The thieves have yet to be caught, so we may never know their motivations. Regardless, the road has been repaired and is now operational, at least until someone else decides to steal another piece.

Source: Qilu Evening News via TechCrunch


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