Rijkswaterstaat (the executive body of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) is developing a sustainable noise barrier which absorbs traffic noise and generates energy. The innovative barrier is constructed using solar cells which generate energy on both sides. The Solar Highways project has been awarded a LIFE+ grant from the European Commission worth about €1.4 million. Rijkswaterstaat is conducting this project with its partners ECN and SEAC. Construction of the 400-metre barrier began in 2017. Later this month the barrier is expected to provide about 40 households with locally-generated 'green' electricity. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Electrically Smart Roads 2018-2028.
The project will construct a 400-metre long and 5-metre high barrier, of which the upper metres comprise double-sided solar cells. The integration of the double-sided solar cells into the noise barrier and the large-scale practical application are unique and innovative. The panels on the barrier will face East-West in order for it to absorb sunlight on both sides. The morning and afternoon sunshine will therefore be used to the full.
With the installation and mounting of the first sound-resistant solar panels for Solar Highways, an important milestone was reached in September. The innovative solar noise barrier is now starting to take shape. By mid-October, all of the 136 glass solar panels, each measuring 6m wide x 2m high, will have been installed, forming a 400 metre-long solar noise barrier on the eastern side of the A50 motorway in Uden.
The remaining solar panels will be mounted on the noise barrier between September and mid-October. The cable laying and electrical installation will then be completed in November, followed by a test phase. Commissioning and the supply of the first energy by Solar Highways is planned for December 2018.
Starting in December 2018, over a period of 18 months, the energy-generating capacity of the solar noise barrier will be closely monitored by the Solar Energy Application Centre (SEAC). A series of test sections will be laid out and subjected for example to different cleaning regimes. The outcome of the test phase will be used to provide an accurate estimate for the future maintenance requirements, energy-generating performance and financial return from the solar noise barriers.
Source and top image: Rijkswaterstaat