Germany has introduced a 33 kW prototype highway solar power system in cooperation with Austria and Switzerland. The goal of the system is to harness solar energy from highway infrastructure.
German Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing visited the first PV system covering the Autobahn 81 in the Hegau-Ost service area in Germany this week as the pilot project nears completion.
The installation is a research collaboration between Germany, Austria and Switzerland and is supported by participating research institutes such as Fraunhofer ISE, Forster FF and the Austrian Institute of Technology. The original plan was to cover the freeway directly, but the adjacent through lane was chosen instead.
The solar roof area consisting of steel solar modules was supplied by Solarwatt. Its total power is 33 kW. The PV system is scheduled to be completed in July.
The German Federal Ministry of Transport claims that solar roofs have advantages above motorways, especially near tunnels or rest areas where electricity can be used directly. However, the strict safety requirements of the high-speed traffic below must be met.
Federal Transport Minister Wissing noted the importance of solar energy on federal highways in achieving climate neutrality, and the legislation aims to speed up and simplify the expansion of solar energy on and near highways. Federal Autobahn GmbH is actively looking for suitable locations with the goal of achieving climate neutrality in its own region by 2040. The pilot project will be scientifically monitored by the Federal Highway Research Institute for a year.
The new legislation also makes it easier for municipalities, residents and investors to install solar modules near federal highways. In particular, noise barriers have been identified as suitable installation areas for solar energy. A register of potential areas is currently being drawn up and the ministry is working to simplify the planning process to encourage the deployment of renewable energy systems along federal highways.