The 8 best renewable energy projects on the roads

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Elia Tabuenca García
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If space recovery is a problem when it comes to investing in renewable energy, this is why many projects focus on the exploitation of areas covered by roads and highways. These are large spaces, of far from negligible interest, the use of which, compatibly with the environment and through smart investments, could open up new perspectives for the development of renewable sources.

He is about to end up run over, his mother saves him

If the recovery of spaces is a problem when it comes to investing in renewable energy, which is why many projects focus on exploiting areas covered by roads and highways. These are large spaces, of far from negligible interest, the use of which, compatibly with the environment and through smart investments, could open up new perspectives for the development of renewable sources.

And this is why there are so many designers and architects who have focused on the streets to produce energy. Here are the eight most interesting projects in our opinion that we hope will be realized as soon as possible:

1- SOLAR CARRIAGE: the photovoltaic roads

These are solar panels to be placed on the roads that in addition to generating clean electricity are able to provide information on damage and send traffic messages to motorists. Thanks to the help of internal microprocessors it will also be possible to monitor the position of vehicles. Photovoltaic roads provide an economic advantage thanks to the revenue generated in the form of electricity. A new form of investment and sustainable development. (For more info read also Solar Rodways and Kmzero road)


Project by designer Tyson Steele, designed for the streets of the United States, has a height of 20 meters above the ground and a width of 40 meters. The longer version has been designed to increase the insulation properties and reduce its visibility in pristine green areas. The solar panels installed along the arch produce renewable energy that can be converted into electric lighting for the motorway network, as well as supplement the electricity demand of the neighboring areas. Other benefits: The arch protects the road surface from hail and ice formation during the winter and creates a cooling effect during the summer.


The future of urban transport, according to industrial designer David Huang, stems from an integration between road and vehicle. The shape of the roadway is concave (like a tube cut in half transversely): the effect is to produce a continuous flow of air in the tunnel between the road and the surrounding environment by exploiting the return energy of the wind. Wind turbines along the roadway and solar panels lined up on the upper surface of the road are rigorously commissioned to produce clean energy.


Pedro Gomez, creator of the E turbine project, designed a wind power generation system by exploiting the movement of air produced by the passage of vehicles on the highway. The energy is convertible into street lighting, information panels and emergency telephones.

5- AUTOSTRADA GREEN: The Green Road Project

Conceived by Gene Fein and Ed Merrit, the Green Road Project is based on installing solar panels and wind generators on highways to provide clean energy for the city. It is a renewable source project that offers electricity to be used also to recharge electric vehicles on the street


Designed as simple road speed bollards, in reality they are devices placed on the road path capable of recovering the lost energy of vehicles. Not all the energy of the fuels is used for the whole: the lost part is recovered by the so-called Road Ribs and reused for street lighting and for recharging electric cars. In detail, as per video, the movement of the vehicle moves the road rib that generates renewable energy. The electricity is then stored in a battery installed on the side of the road.

Once charged, the battery can be used to deliver electric energy. These devices have been designed to withstand heavy trucks without showing signs of wear.


This project, completely made in Italy, aims to redevelop the infamous A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria. Signed by the architects of Coffice, it combines renewable energy, enjoyment of the landscape and elements of sustainable tourism, a virtuous mix that earned the creators Francesco Colarossi e Giovanna and Luisa Saracino the second position - and a prize of 7.500 € - At the contest "South Solar Park - The highway of the sun". The key is undoubtedly integration: alle wind turbines arranged between one pylon and the other, the so-called Solar Road, road sections covered by a photovoltaic mantle which, to date, are also being tested in other parts of the world. In addition, as per the competition regulations, the areas adjacent to the carriageways have been converted into pedestrian areas complete withbelvedere, rows of trees e greenhouses dedicated to organic farming, where fruit, vegetables and other products will be grown and resold on the spot. (To learn more, please click here)

8- SOLAR CYCLE PATH: the SolarRoad Bike Path

Other than cars: a good walk in bike to reduce smog and for an increasingly sustainable mobility. The SolarRoad Bike Path project comes from Netherlands developed by the TNO Research Institute together with the Province of North Holland. It is a cycle path made of concrete blocks covered with a 1 cm layer of silicon solar cells. The photovoltaic panels are shielded by a resistant glass that allows cyclists to ride on them. The track is capable of producing about 50 KWH per square meter of energy per year and can be used for street lighting, traffic systems and for domestic purposes. We just have to hope to see the work completed near Amsterdam for 2012.

The advantages in carrying out these projects are:

- the production of clean energy with positive effects on pollution

- the decrease in dependence on fossil sources

- the importance of alternative sources to meet the world's energy needs

- the possibility of opting for cheaper choices.

Because choosing inexhaustible sources today means moving towards the future.

Read all our articles on photovoltaic highways

Read also Solar Roadways: on the roads photovoltaic solar panels instead of asphalt

Read also How to get energy from the streets: the 4 proposals of the University of Rhode Island

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