Having conquered rooftops and windows, solar technology may soon take over beneath our streets. Barcelona's city hall has just installed photovoltaic panels in 50 square meters of pavement. The experimental project will contribute to the bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The solar panels composed of photovoltaic modules covered in highly resistant, non-slip glass are wired into the city's general power grid. The goal of the project is to generate 7,560 kilowatts of electricity per year, which is about enough to cover the needs of three homes.
The photovoltaic paving has been installed in the heart of the Catalan capital in the Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes. "A commission will evaluate the results and analyze the suitability of reproducing the solution in other parts of the city," point out city authorities.
Spain's first photovoltaic pavement received funding of €30,000 from the city council's "Generating pavements" program, which aims to promote innovative solutions to cut emissions by 50% before the end of the decade, and to make Barcelona carbon-neutral by 2050.
Research in the field of surfaces, notably within the framework of the the SaferUp project led by an engineer from the University of Bologna is experimenting with a wide range of smart and sustainable materials for the streets of the future, and the idea of using paving to generate power is already being tested elsewhere in Europe.
In 2014, the Netherlands inaugurated the world's first ever solar bike path, SolaRoad, a 70 meter-long installation with the capacity to produce 140 kilowatts an hour.
In January 2019, another photovoltaic paving project was installed in Bobigny on the outskirts of Paris. The goal of the 56-square-meter installation is to provide power to light a local cycling track.