In an initiative that could boost solar capacity in the urban areas that need it most, Barcelona has installed Spain’s first photovoltaic pavement.
The 50-square-metre section of non-slip solar panels in a small urban park is a small but significant part “of the city’s drive to become carbon neutral by 2050,” writes The Guardian.
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Generating 7,560 kWh per year—sufficient to supply the energy needs of just three households—and modelled after a 25-metre solar bike lane in stalled in the Dutch city of Utrecht last year, the pavement pilot is being jointly funded by the city and the manufacturer.
“If we’re going to reach a target of zero emissions, we’re going to have to think about supplying electricity to blocks of flats, but we’ll also have to think of using wind and solar parks outside the city,” said Eloi Badia, who is in charge of Barcelona’s climate emergency and ecological transition plans. “But installations on the ground like this open up new possibilities, and not just for Barcelona.”
For Fernando Prieto, executive director of the Sustainability Observatory, the priority must be to fund the work force to build one million urban rooftop installations as a way to help individual Spanish citizens gain energy independence. What’s not desirable, he told The Guardian, are massive, remote installations that gobble up hundreds of hectares of agricultural lands and forests.
Urging the advance of supportive green policies, Prieto projected that such an effort “would take five years, generate enough electricity for 7.5 million people, create over 15,000 jobs, and cut CO2 emissions by 4.2 million tonnes.”
Solar has been seeing brighter days in Spain since 2018, when the incoming socialist coalition ditched the punitive tax on solar installation put in place by the previous conservative government. Scrapping the tax proved a boon for the country’s green ambitions, and today it is “ranked 11th in the world for solar power and eighth for renewables overall.”
Now, The Guardian adds, “major retailers have got in on the act” with firms such as Ikea “offering domestic solar installations at an average cost of US$6,000 for a three-bedroom house.”