Innovative sound barrier supplies energy to residential area

The first sound barrier with integrated solar cells was take into use today. This screen is the first of a new kind of sound barriers, designed to keep the noise out and to collect energy at the same time. The 480 m long screen along the N470 supplies sufficient energy for 10 households in an area that would otherwise remain unused. The Municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp and the Province Zuid-Holland jointly took the initiative to have construction company BAM develop the sustainable sound barrier.

Locally produced green energy

“We are using the surface of the sound barrier to produce locally generated, sustainable electricity. This energy will be supplied to the neighbourhood, allowing the residents to profit twice from the sound barrier: less noise from the road and green energy from their own neighbourhood,” says alderman Melzer.

Sustainable energy

Because of the Province of Zuid-Holland's financial support, solar cells could be added to the planned sound barrier. “The Province has ambitious energy targets. A part of that is that we aim to inspire municipalities and other road managers to join us, and to reduce CO2-emissions,” describes Regional Minister Floor Vermeulen. “Pijnacker-Nootdorp was the first municipality to use this subsidy arrangement and that is why I am now here with the alderman as launching customer of this innovative barrier.”

Unique construction

To create optimal living conditions for the homes along the N470 in the new Keijzershof district, the municipality had the 480 m long barrier constructed. The barrier is 2.5 m high and offers room to 76 elements with solar cells.

“Sound barriers with solar panels have existed for a while now, but never before have the solar cells been integrated into the glass,”, says regional director BAM Infra, Henk Post. “In building facades and roofs, this is already being done, but never in sound barriers before now in The Netherlands. And this is just the beginning. In a couple of years, we won't be able to imagine that we used to place sound barriers without solar cells any more. They already exist, have a considerable surface area and deliver immediate clean energy.

Eco-conscious residents

Patrick Sanwikarja moved into his home in the Keijzershof district in May this year. Patrick: “I cannot but laud the arrival of a sound barrier that generates solar power. Let's only make sound barriers with solar cells from now on. There cannot be enough of them. The residents of Keijzershof are already very eco-conscious. Almost all the houses in the neighbourhood have solar panels on their roof. Such a sound barrier with solar cells suits this neighbourhood to a T.”.

Sturdy and nice

The sound barrier is easy to maintain and is weatherproof and vandal-resistant. To protect the solar cells from flying bits of grit and stone, caused by passing cars, BAM applied extra strong 8 mm thick glass at the front and the back of the solar cells. In consultation with the municipality and the urban planner for Zuid-Holland, the image quality has been safeguarded. Although solar cells are not transparent, a solution offering a view of the landscape behind has been found. Electricity cables, inverters and other electrical parts have been neatly fitted inside the barrier.

Sustainable energy

After the hand-over, BAM Infra is responsible for the generation of on average 30 megawatt hours per year for the coming 10 years. That is sufficient to supply electricity to 10 households. Via the Stedin network, the generated electricity becomes available to the neighbouring households.