Research institutions in Austria and Germany have launched a joint project aiming to develop a solar rooftop facility for highways, called “PV-SÜD”. The Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT) has teamed up with Fraunhofer ISE and the company Forster Industrietechnik to develop and build a prototype to find out whether such PV units are practical and can work with existing maintenance management, such as snow removal. AIT said that rooftop facilities have the potential to not just generate electricity, but to also protect the road and prolong its lifetime, or even help with noise protection.
Solar PV is a key technology for the energy transition, but a lack of space often presents a problem for sufficient renewables expansion. Once a global technology leader, Germany’s solar sector has suffered from increased competition abroad and declining expansion rates at home in recent years. But changes in trade regimes, development of power storage and innovations from research labs offer hope for a revival of solar and its key role in Germany’s Energiewende.