Scientists Propose Building Solar Panel Roofs for India’s Highways

2nd Apr 2013

Scientists at the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI) have made a proposal to cover major roads and highways in the state of Gujarat with elevated platforms that will hold solar modules.

The pilot project that they hope to install will cover the 205 kilometre long Ahmedaba-Rajkot highway, with computer simulations suggesting that the project would produce 104MW of electricity.

Following a success in Gujarat the scientists hope that the idea will spread to other highways around the country, and have estimated the power generation potential for some of the major national highways.

The 93km Ahmedabad-Vadodara highway could produce 61MW of solar power, the 5,839km Golden Quadrilateral Highway which connects four Indian cities could generate 4,418MW of power, and the 7,300km North-South-East-West Corridor which stretches across all of India both length and breadthways, is estimated to have the potential to create 5,524MW.

You may be questioning the need to build the solar PV panels on roofs over the highways, and the answer is land. Land in India is a highly limited resource and therefore expensive. Doubling up, by using the same land for highways and solar farms is a handy way of reducing costs. Talks have even been held about the possibility of introducing the same system to the nation’s railway network.

Other than the cost of land there are other advantages to building solar roofs along the highways: most transmission lines in India run alongside the highways, which mean connecting to the grid wouldn’t be too difficult or expensive; some of the power generated could be used to light the roads at night, and power infrastructure located along the highway; also, many major industrial parks are located off the highways, so providing the power from the solar panels would be much cheaper and more efficient as it does not require long transmission lines.

By. James Burgess