For some years there has been a growing concern about re-humanize cities. On the one hand, the continuous restriction of circulation to combustion vehicles, motivated by high pollution, but also by the need to give space to people, is motivating a movement that promotes the use of bicycles in cities.
So more and more bike lanes are being createdwhich, in addition, they want to take advantage of to generate electricity with photovoltaic panels.
During the last 70 years, vehicles have been invading cities, displacing people to very restricted spaces, such as sidewalks and small parks. However, thanks to the need to reduce energy consumption and lower pollution levels in cities, this trend is reversing.
Y Why don’t we harness and generate energy at the same time? This is how initiatives are being born that aim to humanize and energetically improve our populations.
Bike lane with solar roof
The installation of photovoltaic panels on the bike lanes it is not something new. Already in 2014 a section of about 32 km was installed in South Korea. On a highway that connects two important cities in the Asian country, Sejong and Daejeon, a photovoltaic structure was placed with the panels. The bicycle lane runs in the middle of the highway, separating vehicles traveling in different directions. However, to increase the safety of cyclists, a lane was left as a shoulder on each side of the bicycles.
The most important thing is that the The roof formed by the solar panels generates electricity that is used in lighting and signage. Also, it protects cyclists a bit from bad weather.
However, the case of South Korea is not the only one. Also in Europe there are similar initiatives. An example of this is the city of Freiburg, in Germany, where the installation of some 900 photovoltaic panels has been carried out on a 300-meter stretch of bike lane. Solar panels are translucent so they do let in some light, but more importantly it has been calculated that can generate 280,000 kWh of green electricity per year.
As a last example, we expose the project of the German architect Peter Kuczia. The Solar Veloroute, a semi-enclosed, modular bike path, provides cyclists with shelter, light at night and charging stations en route. A thin canopy is used to protect riders from sun, wind and rain. Curved steel arches support the set of photovoltaic panels which, according to Kuczia, could generate up to 2,000 MWh of electricity per kilometer of bike path.
This design is currently used in Switzerland and Dubai. As more and more cities strive to make their transportation options more environmentally friendly, routes like this could become quite commonplace.
Bike lane with solar floor
Installing a sunroof is not the only option. Too photovoltaic panels have been developed that are installed as pavement. Thus, in 2016 a test was carried out on a road in the north of France, where a section of asphalt was installed with photovoltaic panels. The results were not as expected, however, so the French authorities want to continue the tests using panels with better protections.
Other more successful cases are bicycle routes, since the weight and abrasion due to friction that they have to support is much less than with cars and trucks. Thus, both in the Netherlands and in Germany, different sections have already been installed with a floor made up of different types of photovoltaic panels.
This is the case of the Erftstadt bei Koln bike path. Its cost was 50,000 euros, that is, each square meter cost approximately 250 euros. Some of the characteristics of this bike lane is that is able to reduce noise, in addition to melt snow and ice, which limits maintenance costs, especially during winter. And of course, it generates electricity for use in lighting the path itself.
Another example is Krommenie, in the Netherlands.where a high-tech bike path for cyclists was opened in 2015 and that we see in the following image. It’s called the SolaRoad and it’s special because one of its two lanes is equipped with solar panels that can deliver power to the grid.. The bike lane with the photovoltaic floor is just over 75 meters long. However, the developers hoped that it could produce enough energy annually to power the surrounding homes.
tiles that generate electricity
Initiatives that focus on pedestrians are also emerging. And it is that, in large cities there are always areas with a very high traffic of people. This is how different researchers have developed various models of tiles that generate electricity when stepped on.
This is the case of a new floor that was installed in 2012 outside the Westfield Stratford City shopping center near the London Olympic stadium. The idea was to take advantage of the passage of the nearly 40 million people who pass through that place throughout the year. With the electricity generated, half of the exterior of the shopping center is illuminated.