Architecture

Building a bridge to renewable energy

Building a bridge to renewable...
The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
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The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
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The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
The Solar Wind bridge concept
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The Solar Wind bridge concept
The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
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The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
The Solar Wind bridge concept
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The Solar Wind bridge concept

Bridges are generally exposed to the elements, meaning they generally get a nice dose of sunlight often coupled with some fairly strong crosswinds. For these reasons this “Solar Wind” bridge design would seem to make a lot of sense. The proposed bridge would harness solar energy through a grid of solar cells embedded in the road surface, while wind turbines integrated into the spaces between the bridge’s pillars would be used to generate electricity from the crosswinds.

The brainchild of Italian designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, the Solar Wind concept was designed for the Solar Park Works – Solar Highway competition that asked entrants to modernize sections of a decommissioned elevated highway stretching between Bagnera and Scilla in Italy.

The road surface would replace traditional asphalt with 20 km (12.4 miles) of “solar roadways” consisting of a dense grid of solar cells coated with a transparent and durable plastic coating providing 11.2 million kWh per year. The designers say this system, combined with the 26 wind turbines integrated underneath the bridge generating 36 million kWh per year, would provide enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes.

The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes
The Solar Wind bridge concept combines solar cells and wind turbines to generate power for around 115,000 homes

In addition to the “solar roadways,” the top surface of the bridge would also include a “green promenade” along its length comprising solar greenhouses for growing local produce. Drivers would be able to stop along the bridge to buy some fresh fruit and veggies while enjoying panoramic bridge views (an idea which strikes us as "a bridge too far" for this concept).

The Solar Wind entry was awarded second prize in the Solar Park Works – Solar Highway competition and the design clearly has merit. The integration of wind turbines into the underside of high altitude bridge exposed to constant strong winds seems like a particularly good idea – given that this could be achieved from a structural engineering point of view. Let's hope someone will see the concept and run with it.

Via New Italian Blood.

24 comments
Richie Suraci
Great idea.....we would love to institute a project like this here...
Facebook User
About the Greenhouses: The last thing I want on a Highway, ist stop, or other peuple stopping. About the road surface: Not inly on racetracks, but also on common Roads the cars loose rubber on the road surface everytime they drive. So the \"transparent and durable\" plastics won\'t be transparent for too long, unless they find a Way to clean it. Also I\'d be interested in the c_f values of those plastics, because especially on bridges side forces can get quite extreme due to wind. For the wind turbines: Good Idea, given that the increased area is taken into account when designing the bridge, so it won\'t lean over too far.
Anumakonda Jagadeesh
Great Idea. In fact I have been toying with the idea of putting small wind turbines to produce wind energy just like Exhaust fans so that batteries put on the pillars get charged and the lights on the bridge get power during nights. Similarly Solar Panels. This will be a decentralised way of providing power locally. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP), India
Seamon
The concept should be a bit more realistic - the greenhouses are simply stupid, bridge is quite a bad place to stop a car and would you really want to buy some fruit on a bridge with heavy traffic, or relax there while cars are driving by? As for the solar roadways - why not make solar roofs (designed is such way, that they would provide enough light for cars and their shape would be aerodynamic). First off - a roof could be maintained without stopping the traffic, rain, show etc wouldn\'t affect the surface of the road so driving should be safer. And also jumping off the bridge wouldn\'t be that easy.. As for the turbines - I\'m not an engineer, but imho those turbines would create additional strain to the construction, of course that can be taken info account, yet as it seems the bridge is already built, so U can\'t alter it that much. The turbines could be simply constructed under the bridge - wouldn\'t look that cool, but it wouldn\'t directly interfere with the bridge itself. Not to mention the construction costs.
bobmeyerweb
The wind turbine idea has real potential, but as Richie suggests the forces generated shouldn\'t be underestimated. The roadway solar collector idea is idiotic. Cars and trucks wear down asphalt and concrete. How long do they expect plastic to last? And how slippery is it going to be when wet (or even dry, for that matter)? Solar cells could be placed on parts of the bridge not exposed to traffic, but not on the roadway itself.
Chiranjiv Mehta
evacuating thermal heat due to natural day time heating of passive surfaces like the road, walls is not very fashionable but will provide \"base\" heat for large heat generation/transfer for grid sized genaration without any additional cost if it is incorporated at the design stage. Current breakthroughs are in capturing, mutiplying the radiance/radiation of the sun. But hardly any to use the heat already created on the surface of the planet due to sunshine. BTW - trapping the energy of the sun (some of which would have bounced off/reflected back in space) may not actually help in stopping global warming - is it not? Just asking.
WDR031927
Take part of the idea,wind-energy, and add to Mississippi River\'s bridges that are all READY for this!
teeduke
Solar panels on roadways seems to defy logic. They wouldn\'t last very long. As for the wind turbines under the bridge, they would seem inherently less efficient than turbines placed where the wind is optimal, rather than where people primarily need to bridge a gap. Good luck finding backers.
Charles Bosse
Actually, I think that the idea of having a place to stop on the bridge and enjoy the view is great. Fruit stands next to the dirt and grime of a high traffic road seem less great, but it is a nice enough thought. All engineering aside, I feel like a huge structure of fan blades above a forest is an environmental disaster. With the clustered array of spinning blades, birds will face significantly higher danger than in normal wind turbine. situations.
Todd Dunning
To bring us all down to reality, both wind and PV systems just don\'t receive enough energy from wind or sunlight to generate reasonable power. There\'s not enough \'oomph\' there, folks - no matter how we wish it were otherwise. The cost of wind and PV systems is orders of magnitude greater than the energy they return - even with the most cutting edge technology. Even though they are highly developed and efficient, you can only get so much blood out of a turnip. For generations we have had the ideal power generating technology out there - but the Hippies have told us it\'s bad. We could all have had electric vehicles for the last 30 years, high-speed rail - except that we listened to complete idiots tell us that nuclear is somehow bad.