Roads, pavements and sounds barriers offer a huge surface for solar panels. This is how thousands of kilometres of roads between Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands could generate clean energy. The new Interreg project ROLLING SOLAR aims at advancing the uptake of flexible photovoltaics in public infrastructure. The project started this month.
Flexible photovoltaic panels are light and pliable. Thanks to their agility, they are easy-to-use and can be installed almost everywhere. To illustrate: the five meter-long strips fit on a chair when rolled up.
The flexible panels can become a solution for regions that struggle to find sites for renewable energy generation. Space is limited, as is the support from local residents, concerned that solar panels or wind turbines will blemish their environment. This is why ROLLING SOLAR will install flexible photovoltaics on ‘ugly’ infrastructure like roads and sounds barriers. This raises little opposition and is a very efficient use of space.
The partners of ROLLING SOLAR want to prove that the massive uptake of flexible photovoltaics in public infrastructure is feasible. They will address the technical and economic barriers that still hamper their roll-out. Pilots are scheduled in Heerlen (NL) and Genk (BE).
The project starts at a moment that climate policies are hotly debated in all the three countries of the Euregio. This will undoubtedly raise the interest in flexible photovoltaics as a contribution to the energy transition. Recent pilots with solar bike lanes in The Netherlands and France drew international attention. ‘The project comes at the right moment’, concludes Ando Kuypers of project leader TNO.
Bert Pauli, Regional Minister of the Dutch Province of Brabant, opened the project on 9 January 2019 at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven. He praised the project’s Euregional collaboration: ‘It becomes increasingly important to work across borders to scale up innovation.’ By unwinding one of the panels, Pauli opened the project and literally ‘unrolled’ flexible photovoltaics.
ROLLING SOLAR is led by TNO and runs from 2019 until 2022. The project is supported by Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine with EUR 2,8 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund.