Italy, the country with the world’s first highway ever built (in 1926), is now preparing the addition of another motorway segment between Catania and Siracusa (the A18). But this is not just another motorway: it is the first fully solar-powered in the world, with 20 hectares-worth of solar panels.
The 30 km will be opened to the public starting January 1st 2011 and will feature cutting edge infrastructure with the most advanced technology in Europe. It will feature cutting-edge control systems, surveillance equipment, quality tarmac, and the safest tunnels in the world. The solar panels were already functional at the end of September.
The PV equipment practically stretches on 2.8 km of road, having a width of 100 meters. The cells are put on three huge artificial tunnels, and the project cost around €60 million. The power generating figures are nevertheless impressive: 12 million kWh generated annually, saving 31,000 tons of oil and 10,000 tons of CO2, every year.
If you have ever been on Italy’s highways, they you know their level of sophistication and the way things are built there. Even the asphalt has an interesting texture that prevents your car from skidding and rain from covering the markings, at night. These solar panels built on the Sicilian highway make Italy a pioneer in solar powered motorways, as they were once in building them.