Solar bike paths go online in Netherlands

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France's Colas and Dutch construction contractor BAM Royal Group have commissioned two cycle paths equipped with photovoltaic modules in the Netherlands.

The bike paths each span 1,000 square meters in the provinces of North Brabant and North Holland.

The PV module tech offers an efficiency of 21% per square meter. The solar cells are protected by a multilayer of resin and the electrical architecture has been designed to reduce the amount of wiring.

The two cycle paths will produce 160 MWh/year of renewable energy during the first year. The two projects are part of an initiative launched in 2018 by Rijkswaterstaat, which is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Solar roads in the Netherlands are not an unfamiliar concept. In 2016, a bike path near Amsterdam was equipped with solar panels and another one was built in 2020 in Utrecht. However, the feasibility and economic viability of solar roads remain controversial.

The Dutch government is also developing “Zon op Infra,” a plan to test the viability of solar power production on road infrastructure. The plan includes the deployment of solar installations along highways and on noise barriers

The Dutch authorities are struggling to identify surfaces on which to deploy large-scale PV plants due to the scarcity of land. In recent years, research institutes and private companies have tried to prove the feasibility of solar projects on non-agricultural land, including dikes, rooftops, onshore and offshore water surfaces.

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