A group of Israeli engineers have created a system that allows certain types of roads to generate electricity just by driving over them. The Israeli engineers behind the project claim that a 1km stretch of the power-generating asphalt will generate 400kW - enough power to run eight small cars.

The system works by embedding tiny piezoelectric crystals into the road. When cars drive over the crystals, they are 'squeezed' and thus generate a small electrical charge. The new 'electric road' will be tested next month when engineers in Israel drive over a stretch of tarmac embedded with the tiny piezoelectric crystals.

According to the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), if the system was installed on every stretch of British motorway it would generate enough energy to run 34,500 small cars. The director at the ETA, Andrew Davis, predicts that with the mass roll-out of electric vehicles in the near future, "it may be that roads themselves will provide some of the new fuel - certain vehicles could be powered entirely by the roads on which they drive."

The system differs to another electricity-generating road we reported earlier, developed by a Californian local. That system uses the kinetic energy of a truck barreling down a highway to compress tanks of hydraulic fluid located in plates on the road surface. This creates a pumping action that can turn a generator and produce electricity.

While the Israeli project is still undergoing testing, the hydraulic plate system is expected to be used by Oakland terminal operator SSA to supply around 5% of its energy needs.