Solar Photovoltaics for Highways?

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The Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), in collaboration with Germany’s Fraunhofer ISE and Forster Industrietechnik, has launched the PV-SÜD pilot project to create new opportunities for solar power generation on road networks.

Several projects in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have already shown that photovoltaics can be used to supply electricity for rest areas or to light tunnels. The PV SÜD project will initially work on the development of a concept and a pilot project for the deployment of PV rooftops on busy motorways.

In addition to the double use of space, the scientists expect other positive outcomes, including the protection of road surfaces from precipitation and overheating. They also want to verify whether PV rooftops would provide added value for roads, as expected, while also testing the practical, technical and economic feasibility of such concepts.

The first part of the project is to develop a PV roof prototype, including the selection of modules and support structures. The objective is to determine whether PV system can satisfy a number of different requirements, including drainage, wind and snow loads, stability and impact resistance, maintenance possibilities, and traffic safety. Then the scientists will test whether the system works reliably.

“With the photovoltaic roofing, the following objectives in particular should be achieved. First, the production of photovoltaic energy using appropriate PV module technologies,” said Manfred Haider, a project manager at the AIT Center for Mobility Systems. “Second, the flexible use of the road network, and third, increasing the life of the pavement by protecting it from overheating and precipitation. Fourthly, additional noise protection.”

The PV-SÜD project is funded via Germany’s Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK), the Austrian Agency for the Promotion of Research (FFG), the German Federal Ministry of Transport, and Switzerland’s Federal Roads Office. The knowledge gained from the research project will benefit the future use of photovoltaics in the road networks of all three countries.

Author: Sandra Enkhardt

This article was originally published in pv magazine and is republished with permission.


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