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Solar energy in road surfaces and crash barriers

Integrating solar panels into roads and crash barriers are solutions for the production of large-scale and invisible solar energy without the need for additional space. The idea is therefore to give as much of the existing surface area as possible, such as roofs, building façades and roads, a second function as a source of renewable energy.

As a prelude to large-scale application, road authorities are keen to gain experience in the management, maintenance and, in the future, tendering of solar panel roads. Our road network covers some 140,000 kilometres, a significant proportion of which can be equipped with this technology. One third of our road network can produce enough energy to power nine million electric cars.

Solar panels in roads

Following successful application in a cycle path, it is now the turn of roads. This has been the focus of the SolaRoad project, where the idea is to incorporate a SolaRoad surface in roads used by heavy traffic, such as buses and trucks. The further development of the SolaRoad technology that needs to be done before a follow-up pilot for heavy traffic can be undertaken is taking place within the Rolling Solar project. In this project two sections of road will incorporate solar cells, one with traditional crystalline silicon technology and the second based on thin film (CIGS).

Solar panels on the crash barrier

Together with the Province of Noord-Holland and various partners, TNO has carried out research into the safe and sustainable generation of energy by means of flexible solar foil on crash barriers. With some 7,500 kilometres of crash barriers in the Netherlands, there is potential to generate a lot of solar energy. The pilot, using flexible solar foil on a 72-metre section of dual crash barrier, was carried out along the N194 near Heerhugowaard for a year. The design is the first of its kind in the world. The one-year trial completed in 2020 shows that the pilot continued to perform well in various weather conditions. In order to be able to generate energy profitably and sustainably with an integrated system, costs need to be further reduced and components need further development.

More info about solar energy in road surfaces and crash barriers?

Contact Corry de Keizer

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