Flemish Mobility Minister, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), wants to install solar panels on the unused land of The Agency for Roads and Traffic (Agentschap Wegen en Verkeer, AWV) to generate renewable energy and reduce AWV’s high electricity bill. The last invoice amounted to no less than 45 million euros.
The energy will mainly be used to provide tunnel infrastructure with green electricity. This is stated in a concept note that the Flemish government approved on Friday.
The AWV needs a lot of energy for traffic lights, dynamic road signs, the public lighting of highways, regional roads, and tunnel infrastructure. AWV consumes about 115 GHh annually, of which road lighting and tunnel infrastructure account for 85%.
According to estimations, 100 hectares of solar panels (and about 200 hectares of land) are needed to generate the annual AWV’s energy needs.
Minister Peeters, therefore, wants to install solar panels on the AWV’s unused land to become as self-sufficient as possible. A first rough estimation of land yielded a theoretical potential of at least 600 hectares, parcels of land registered as “grass, water, and shrub zones”, not as agricultural land, forests, or buildings.
“Today, unused land, just think of zones near tunnel complexes or interchanges, now has almost no economic value but is extremely suitable for renewable energy,” Peeters explains.
For third parties?
Further analysis needs to determine whether there are any risks to road safety, whether permits are required, and whether there are no ecological restrictions.
The first project will be to equip the tunnel roofs of the Antwerp Beverentunnel with solar panels, a project planned for 2024. Later, the Kennedytunnel, Tijsmanstunnel, Rupeltunnel, and Craeybeckxtunnel will follow.
Another aspect of the project is to see whether other AWV installations could be provided with the generated energy. It will also be investigated whether the remaining unused land managed by AWV could be made available to third parties for similar energy generation.
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