Heijmans to undertake Solar Highways project in cooperation with Libra Energy
Heijmans is going to realise a new project involving power-generating noise barriers: Solar Highways. A 400-metre long stretch of noise barriers capable of generating solar power will be erected alongside the A50 at Uden. Heijmans will install a total of 68 noise barriers, which will generate enough power to supply electricity to 40 to 60 households. For this project, Libra Energy will supply the SolarEdge Power optimizers, inverters and the DC wiring. This will make Solar Highways the largest project in Europe using solar cells integrated into noise barriers to generate power.
Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment), Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and the Solar Energy Application Centre (SEAC) intend to use this project to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of integrating solar cells into noise barriers along motorways. This location was chosen for the Solar Highways project because the noise barriers along the A50 need to be modified and are positioned in such a way that the bifacial (double-sided) solar cells are properly oriented in relation to the sun (east-west).
Heijmans will place noise barriers along a two-kilometre stretch, 400 metres of which will consist of power-generating panels. The noise barrier will be five metres high, with the upper four metres incorporating solar cells on both sides. The fact that the solar cells are integrated into the glass noise barriers makes them vandal-resistant.
Work will commence along the A50 at the beginning of 2018, and the power-generating noise barriers will be connected to the national grid at the end of the year. The barriers will then be studied and monitored over the following 18 months. The results of the tests will be used as a basis for correctly evaluating the value of future initiatives of this kind. Heijmans will be collaborating on this project with Scheuten, Van Campen / Bayards and Libra Energy.
Last year, in conjunction with Eindhoven University of Technology, Van Campen Industries, SEAC, Airbus Defence and Space Netherlands, and ECN, Heijmans completed a field study into the possibilities of using noise barriers to generate power. The SONOB (Solar Noise Barrier) project in ‘s Hertogenbosch involved the testing of several different solar energy technologies incorporated into noise barriers under a range of weather conditions and positioned at various angles to the sun. That research demonstrated that the generation of solar power using noise barriers placed along railways and motorways is promising and can be implemented on a large scale.