Infrastructure Integrated Photovoltaics is a rising trend. It refers to embedding solar power in infrastructure, and as the price of solar PV falls, we’re seeing more and more examples. To explore the possibilities, here are ten different forms:
- Solar roadways had, if you’ll excuse the expression, a moment in the sun a couple of years ago when a crowdfunding campaign went viral. That particular project hasn’t delivered the goods, but experimental road surfaces with incorporated PV have been built in France and China.
- Sound barriers are often installed alongside highways to shield communities from traffic noise. This company in the Netherlands is installing a solar version. A better way to build solar roads than putting them under the trucks, in my view.
- Bus stops with solar panels come in various forms, but I’m going to highlight this one which has solar glass. It’s the first one in Britain and can be enjoyed in Canary Wharf.
- Stained glass windows in this church in Canada combine coloured glass and solar panels to create something beautiful and functional.
- Public art can be displayed on solar panels, thanks to a thin film tested by the Land Art Generator Initiative recently. They tested it with a mural on a solar panel, but I suspect the technology will be picked up by advertisers in short order.
- Streetlights can be designed with solar panels so that they can be installed off-grid. There are a number of models on the market. Some of them charge phones too.
- Solar canals are an Indian innovation. Installing solar canopies over canals prevents evaporation and saves water. There are a few advantages to installing solar PV over water, it turns out.
- Solar trains, as I mentioned a couple of months ago, are technically feasible. They don’t exist yet, although India is fitting solar panels to the roofs of their trains to power the lights, and plenty of people are doing that with buses too.
- Roof tiles are probably in the slightly different category of Building Integrated Photovoltaics to be honest, but I’m shooting for ten here. And somebody will mention it if I don’t. It’s been possible to get solar tiles for a while, but the coloured and textured ones from Tesla are in a class of their own.
- Street furniture, finally, is probably the place where you’re most likely to encounter Infrastructure Integrated Photovoltaics in daily life. There are lots of examples – street signs, parking meters, and even bins.
If you’re anything like me, you may well be spotting solar infrastructure in the wild, and making a mental note. Seen any good examples lately?