Having the solar panels along existing infrastructure would free up more space for agriculture and housing
A solar solution is being developed in Drenthe, which could allow green energy to be harvested from sunlight, whilst freeing up space for agriculture and housing: placing solar panels along the sides and down the centre of motorways. The first trial could be installed on the road between Hoogeveen and the German border. The Dutch infrastructure agency, the Rijkswaterstaat has developed plans for the trial to create a ‘solar route’ between the Netherlands and Germany.
Rijkswaterstaat wants to investigate whether solar panels can be used on highways throughout the Netherlands, NOS reports.
There is a lot of potential for generating green energy along highways, such as along the verges or central reservation; both sections of the road are by the Rijkswaterstaat. The organisation estimates that 1.5 to 4 terawatt hours that can be produced by solar panels: that is enough power for at least hundreds of thousands to more than a million households.
All over the country, plans are underway for more windmills or solar parks. In quite a few places this is accompanied by heated discussions, for example about the amount of agricultural land that is being sacrificed. Rijkswaterstaat is therefore increasingly being asked to look into options for having the panels in different places.
The Rijkswaterstaat is currently investigating, together with other parties, on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, how best to use its land: it owns about 41,000 hectares of land and almost 1.5 million hectares of water.
“We have to figure out some things first,” says programme manager Sten Heijnis. “Because for us, traffic safety and traffic flow are paramount. We do not want unsafe situations to arise on the road.”
Ten pilot projects should shed some (sun) light on the possibilities: “for example: how do you install solar panels in such a way that they do not sparkle, so that people in traffic are not bothered by them, and also: how do you prevent noise pollution.” THe Rijkswaterstaat will not work with sustainable energy itself, but will make the land available.
Test on the A37
One of the most developed pilots is the ‘Drentse Zonneroute’, placing panels along the A37, a stretch of highway of more than forty kilometers between Hoogeveen and the German border. It is expected that 200 megawatts can be generated, enough power for approximately 50,000 households.