These new solar energy innovations are particularly interesting because the barriers, which are brightly colored and pleasant to look at, will also collect solar energy. The barriers are known as Solar Noise Barriers (SONOB) and their installation is being spearheaded by a consortium of different companies who are interested in developing technology that can serve more than one purpose.
The companies involved in the consortium are the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, Solar Energy Application Center, Van Campen Industries, and Space Netherlands. Michael Debije, of TU/e, is the researcher who personally developed the original concept. He originally published his idea in the publication Nature in March 2015.
The barriers work by absorbing light into the brightly-colored plastic, where it is eventually stored cby solar cells that are concealed in the frame of the plastic barriers. Previously, the design for these solar energy innovations only existed in the minds of the researchers, but now has actually been installed along a highway in the Netherlands near Den Bosch. Two barriers, up since June 18, now collect solar energy as part of a “living lab” to test the efficacy and usability of this technology while improving the quality of life for those that may live next to the busy highway.
These solar energy innovations will hopefully spread all over the world, as this joining of two functions into one technology may be very helpful for solving the environmental problems caused by human activity. Solutions to alleviate climate change are, of course, important, but this technology is even more encouraging because it is a solution to a problem relating to quality of life. Technology that is both environmentally friendly and solves problems faced by people daily will increase the likelihood that it will be widely adopted.