Solar Bicycle Path Constructed in Maartensdijk
While cycling exists as one of the most environmentally friendly means of transport, the Dutch village of Maartensdijk have taken that one step further.
Authorities in the Utrecht region of the Netherlands have devised a forward thinking piece of engineering in which users not only cut out on carbon emissions by choosing to cycle, but they also generate sustainable energy in the process. The 330 metre path is made up of blocks of prefabricated concrete topped with a thin transparent layer that protects and allows sunlight to hit solar cells encased in the blocks.
Although pilot schemes similar to this have already propped up across the Netherlands in Krommenie, north of Amsterdam, and a second in Haaksbergen, the latest construction in Maartensdijk is now the world’s largest solar cycle bicycle path. The development of these paths, which authorities have coined as the ‘double-use’ policy, has the potential to generate enough electricity to provide for 40 households.
The pilot project aims to develop a wide network of dual-use roads that will help Utrecht province in its goal to become climate neutral by 2040. According to provincial official Arne Schaddelee, the country needs to be innovative to reach its targets. “The solar cycle path fits within our policy to make the road infrastructure more sustainable and to use fewer fossil fuels,” she said.
“It’s very important. We want to be climate-neutral in 2040, and then you have to dare to use innovation, and this is very innovative.
“We have a very full province with not much room, and for that reason you have to try dual use. So if you can use roads to generate energy, you have a double advantage.”
With limited land reserves in the Netherlands combined with the vast spaces needed for conventional solar fields, the innovation to combine roads with solar potential is something that will not only protect precious natural resources, but also help to conserve much needed agricultural land.