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Solar Highway A37

A37 - Drenthe

Designing a sustainable energy supply

Rijkswaterstaat is investigating the possibility of making several parts of its territory available for the generation of sustainable energy. The space along motorways offers opportunities for both wind and solar energy. With solar energy, technological development is in full swing, and yielding power and cost effectiveness are still increasing significantly every year. The temperate climate of the Netherlands is also favorable for the overall cost efficiency. In addition, solar energy has less visual impact on the landscape than the placement of wind turbines. There is also no need to compete with the use of space for food production along the motorways, which is often the case in the construction of solar farms. The chances for solar energy along the national road network therefore seem large. With this, Rijkswaterstaat wants to contribute to a sustainable energy supply and at the same time generate possible revenues for the maintenance of the national road network.


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Rijkswaterstaat is investigating the possibility of making several parts of its territory available for the generation of sustainable energy. The space along motorways offers opportunities for both wind and solar energy. With solar energy, technological development is in full swing, and yielding power and cost effectiveness are still increasing significantly every year. The temperate climate of the Netherlands is also favorable for the overall cost efficiency. In addition, solar energy has less visual impact on the landscape than the placement of wind turbines. There is also no need to compete with the use of space for food production along the motorways, which is often the case in the construction of solar farms. The chances for solar energy along the national road network therefore seem large. With this, Rijkswaterstaat wants to contribute to a sustainable energy supply and at the same time generate possible revenues for the maintenance of the national road network.

The highway A37 was selected by Rijkswaterstaat in consultation with the Province of Drenthe as a concrete case for the realization of solar energy. The aim here is to realize an iconic solar route within a few years that acts as a field lab (learning by doing) and provides building blocks for the realization of solar energy along other motorways.

As of June 2016, Studio Marco Vermeulen (SMV) has been involved in the design research for the spatial possibilities of the production of sustainable energy along the A37. From July 2017, the earlier concept has been built on and the design has been further developed. The focus in the second phase lied on aspects such as management, maintenance and safety (RAMSSHEEP analysis) as well as aspects such as nature, landscape and ecology.

This resulted in a complete and realistic design with a substantial generation of solar power, landscaped and with preservation of ecological values of the Rijkswaterstaat area.
Bird's-eye view design of Holsloot junction
Bird's-eye view design of Holsloot junction
Three ordering principles. 1: From A to B. 2: Formed by features in the landscape. 3: Orientation towards the sun.
Three ordering principles. 1: From A to B. 2: Formed by features in the landscape. 3: Orientation towards the sun.
Adjusting the placement of solar panels to the highway and the landscape
Adjusting the placement of solar panels to the highway and the landscape
One of the cross-sections for the arrangement of the solar panels in combination with ecological values
One of the cross-sections for the arrangement of the solar panels in combination with ecological values
Phase 1: solar screen at the Hoogeveen-Oost junction
Phase 1: solar screen at the Hoogeveen-Oost junction
Phase 1: solar screen cross-section
Phase 1: solar screen cross-section
Phase 2: impression of the solar landscape in the Holsloot junction
Phase 2: impression of the solar landscape in the Holsloot junction
Phase 2: cross-section of the solar landscape at junction Holsloot
Phase 2: cross-section of the solar landscape at junction Holsloot
Phase 3: crossing with the historical urban fabric at the Ericasestraat
Phase 3: crossing with the historical urban fabric at the Ericasestraat
Phase 3: cross-section of the crossing with the Ericasestraat
Phase 3: cross-section of the crossing with the Ericasestraat
Phase 3: bird's-eye view of the design of the solar route at the Ericasestraat
Phase 3: bird's-eye view of the design of the solar route at the Ericasestraat
Phase 4: expanding the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 4: expanding the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 4: cross-section of the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 4: cross-section of the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 4: bird's-eye view of the design of the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 4: bird's-eye view of the design of the solar route behind the guide rails
Phase 5: design of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
Phase 5: design of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
Phase 5: cross-section of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
Phase 5: cross-section of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
Phase 5: bird's-eye view of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
Phase 5: bird's-eye view of the long lines of solar panels without guide rails
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