South Korea tests photovoltaics on railroad noise barriers


Suncheon City has been selected by the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) to host the Railway-suitable Solar Power Demonstrator for Noise Reduction project. It is a KRW 6 billion (US$4.8 million) initiative aimed at testing the deployment photovoltaic panels on railroad noise barriers.

The project will be developed with the support of the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) and other government entities.

The installations will rely on bifacial solar modules and will be applied to noise barriers in high-speed and conventional railroads as well as on bridges. The solar modules will be adapted to the aesthetics of each side and should be resistant to pollution, the city government said in a press release.

The foundation has been laid for the development of solar power generation on railroad sound barriers, and if the technology will become viable it will contribute to the creation of an energy-independent and carbon-neutral city,” the statement reads.

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PV developers in land-scarce South Korea have recently considered building solar systems in roadway noise barriers, along highways, and on water reservoirs.

Scientists from the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) developed last year a photovoltaic-thermal noise barrier that could be used to replace conventional soundproof walls to reduce traffic noise. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP), a unit of Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco), also recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Hanmaeum Energy, a Singapore-based private equity firm owned by Affirma Capital and Duham Partners to deploy 100 MW of solar capacity on idle areas close to highways in South Korea.

In the future, the country may host one of the world's largest floating PV projects – a 2.1 GW floating solar complex the South Korean government is developing near the Saemangeum tidal flats, on the coast of the Yellow Sea.

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