Rijkswaterstaat and project partner TNO (formerly ECN part of TNO and SEAC) have developed a sustainable noise barrier that blocks traffic noise and generates energy at the same time. The innovative screen on the east side of the A50 in Uden consists of solar cells that generate green electricity from both the front and rear.
Heijmans designed the screen and in the summer of 2018 began building the 400-metre-long, five-metre-high screen. The top 4 meters of the screen consist of two-sided solar cells. Solar Highways has been operational and connected to the power grid since December 6, 2018. The installation was monitored as a demonstration project until June 30, 2020.
This project was made possible in part by LIFE funding from the European Union through a grant of approximately € 1.4 million.
Monitoring energy output
After 18 months of monitoring, the energy yield equals the most positive forecasts drawn up in advance. In 2019, the installation generated a total of around 203 MWh (megawatt hours). This is sufficient to supply power to around 60 households, a year. View the current yields daily on the website with monitoring results.
Test sections were also established, each with their own cleaning regime, to ascertain the effect of cleaning on the energy yield. Based on the monitored results, an estimate will be made of the maintenance requirements, the energy performance, and the costs and benefits of Solar Highways and of potential similar solar noise barriers in the future.
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.
The project is investigating the practical and financial feasibility of a noise barrier built from construction elements containing double-sided solar cells. The project’s sub-objectives are:
- A demonstration of the technical feasibility of integrating solar cells into common and widely-applicable construction elements for noise barriers.
- The development of an economically-feasible technical and organisational implementation model for wider application in the future.
- The development of a prototype with integrated double-sided solar cells.
- A full-scale demonstration over a 400-metre long stretch.
- Monitoring the energy generated and management aspects during an eighteen-month practical trial period.
- Presentation of a business case for the barrier compared to current practice.
- Communication and dissemination of the results and added value of the integrated PV modules.
- Cooperation with stakeholders
Rijkswaterstaat: Sustainable and innovative
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(On-screen text: Rijkswaterstaat has developed a sustainable noise barrier that absorbs traffic noise and simultaneously generates electricity. Solar Highways: A50 in Uden, sustainable noise barrier, blocks noise, generates electricity. Solar Highways is 400 metres long and 5 metres tall and consists of 1,600 m2 of solar panels.)
(The innovative sound barrier consists of solar panels that generate green electricity on both the front and rear sides. Fully integrating this type of double-sided solar panels in a sound barrier at such a scale is unique, both within and outside of the Netherlands.)
(Heijmans started construction of the sound barrier in the summer of 2018. After completion of the foundation and framework, the concrete elements were placed. Next, the 136 soundproof solar panels were mounted. Due to the smart modular system, panels can be placed and replaced with relative ease.)
THE UPBEAT MUSIC CONTINUES SOFTLY
(On the rear side, metal welding seams have been carefully applied to all panels. Connected and bundled, the welding seams run to a junction box. These junction boxes are connected to an optimiser placed in the aluminium bar of each framework. Through wires within the framework, the solar energy is led from the sound barrier to a control box with inverters. Through these control boxes, the green electricity is led to the switching station.)
THE UPBEAT MUSIC SWELLS
(From the switching station the generated green electricity flows into the national power grid. Green electricity has been generated since December 2018. During the Solar Highways project, the energy output of the solar noise barrier will be accurately measured for 18 months. Local green electricity for 40 to 60 households.)
(In doing so, together with ECN (part of TNO) and SEAC, Rijkswaterstaat hopes to make an innovative contribution to a sustainable future.)
THE UPBEAT MUSIC STOPS
(The Dutch coat of arms, next to: Rijkswaterstaat. Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. The screen turns yellow and white. On-screen text: More information? Go to www.solarhighways.eu/en. A production of Rijkswaterstaat in collaboration with SEAC, ECN, TNO and the LIFE programme. Copyright 2021.)