British motorways are set to power the country as this month sees the installation of the UK’s first solar motorway sound barrier on the M27 near Portsmouth.
The 11 kW peak, 50 m long system, installed by solarcentury for the Highways Agency, will generate around 9,500 kWh of electricity each year. The electricity generated by the sound barrier will be fed into the local electricity grid and used locally for street lighting, street signage or simply sold back to the electricity suppliers.
This system is equivalent to roughly 5 domestic solar PV systems; one house worth of solar power could be installed for every 10m of motorway in the UK!
Dan Davies, director of engineering, solarcentury said, "We are pleased to have worked with CORUS Building Systems to develop the two installation systems. One system uses standard modules and the other is based on unique "peel and stick" solar technology which is simply bonded to the aluminium sound barrier, both suited to a wide range of construction applications."
The solar technology chosen by solarcentury for use in this demanding environment is manufactured by Uni-solar, contains no glass and is robust enough to withstand impacts from stones, stray beer cans and other motorway debris.
"Recent developments in solar photovoltaics have focused on integrating solar into buildings. This pioneering project demonstrates the possibility of using the otherwise un-used verges of our motorways to generate clean electricity," added Jeremy Leggett, solarcentury CEO.
"The solar panel trial is the only one of its kind in England, and could revolutionise the way we power our motorway 'furniture'", said Les Hawker, Highways Agency Project Manager for the scheme. "The fences are easy on the eye; they will also help us to test safety issues and see how they affect motorists."
solarcentury have already installed hundreds of solar lighting systems in bus shelters and stops across the country and are currently trialling the use of solar powered bus ticket machines on Waterloo Bridge in London.