Intelligent Energy

Italy's road of solar power

Italy's road of solar power

Posting in Design

Italy integrates power generation and transportation on the A18 with a large road project in sunny Sicily.

Italy has a solar-powered road in the works. While there's been some talk of paving roadways with photovoltaic panels to capture the sunshine beaming down on miles and miles of open road, that remains a far-off scenario. This is not that kind of road. The panels of the Autostrada A18 won't be for driving on, but the scale and design of the coming solar roadway is still significant.

For an almost two-mile stretch of the Sicilian motorway, about 80,000 solar panels will lie atop three artificial tunnels. Powering the road's lamps, signs, telephones, and tunnel fans, the solar panels will cover about 200 acres.

With an $82 million price tag, the project, the developers expect, will produce 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly, without emitting what would be 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Similar, albeit smaller, solar roadway installations appear on the the A20 Messina-Palermo (also in Sicily) and the A22 Brennero in northern Italy.

Carlo Ombello writes for CleanTechies:

But this new paradigm in energy management is not being pursued just on single, isolated schemes: a further and more meaningful example of this shift in Italy’s infrastructure design approach is witnessed through the widespread implementation of LED road lights and photovoltaic car park shelters being rolled out in all Italian motorways by Autostrade per l’Italia (ASPI), the leading European concessionaire for toll-motorways construction and management, with more than 3,400km of the 6,500km long Italian motorway network.

Italy had the world's second biggest solar market in 2009 (following Germany). While the solar parking lots seem to make more sense than building tunnels for cars to safely pass through, come January 2011, when the A18 is scheduled to open, Italy will have one of the largest integrations of renewable energy and transportation infrastructure around.

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Image: Wikipedia/Sal73x
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: CleanTechies

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Melissa Mahony

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Melissa Mahony has written for Scientific American Mind, Audubon Magazine, Plenty Magazine and LiveScience. Formerly, she was an editor at Wildlife Conservation magazine. She holds degrees from Boston College and New York University's Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting Program. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure