The road's composition is made of three distinct layers, with transparent concrete on top protecting the solar panels beneath. The bottom layer is a strip of insulation that will protect the panels from the earth's elements. Chinese solar inverter firm Growatt has supplied its string inverters for the project.
The Jinan South Ring Expressway creeps into the city and will not only plug into the grid but will also serve as a research prototype, with engineers from Tongji University – who developed the core technology for the project – stressing that in the future this solar-powered stretch of road could actually charge electric vehicles as they drive along it.
Tongji University professor of transportation engineering Zhang Hongchao said that he hopes the solar highway can kickstart the development of a national network of smart roads that would become "mobile solar charging treasures" able to not only power vehicles but also provide pre-emptive technical support, manage driverless fleets and harvest big data to smooth traffic flows.