Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are connected by a huge road system with a total length of 1 million kilometres. This represents a huge usable area which can be used for the generation of renewable energies by integrating solar cells into road surfaces or road infrastructure. Due to the strong growth of electromobility and the growing need for intelligent traffic control systems, a large part of the locally produced energy could be directly used at local level. It can also promote the safe operation of critical control systems. Added to this is the cost advantage of local power generation, e.g. in remote locations. Promising demonstrators have already been realized in which crystalline silicon solar cells have been integrated into bicycle paths (SolaRoad, NL), roads (Colas, F) and noise protection elements. Nevertheless, costs for such elements are very high, not only because they are prototypes and not mass-produced products, but rather because fragile silicon solar cells were used. These require a high degree of mechanical protection and are therefore complex to set up. This project aims to reduce the cost of PV in road surfaces or road infrastructure by using flexible thin-film solar cells in combination with more efficient integration.
Within the EMR region there are a number of world leading institutes (e.g. Solliance) in the field of thin-film solar cell development. The region has an outstanding industrial cluster of equipment producers for the manufacturing of film products and a chemical industry for the manufacturing of innovative materials for such flexible products and materials for road construction, embedding materials and building materials. The embedding of PV in building infrastructure is supported by SEAC (NL) and EnergyVille (B). SEAC is already involved in projects where acoustic barriers are realized with integrated crystalline solar modules.
The project aims to promote sustainable cross-border cooperation between industry, research and stakeholders. The aim is to provide local manufacturers and construction companies with the technical capability to implement cost-effective integration of long lengths of solar cell material into the public infrastructure. This will enable large-scale, sustainable power generation without additional land use in the vicinity of the place of consumption. For example, the PV integrated in every 35,000 km of Dutch bicycle road would generate 15 TWh/year, which corresponds to a CO2 reduction in the scale of 5 million t/year.