The Dutch road network and water network must run completely energy neutral in fourteen years. This means new bridges and locks, owned by Rijkswaterstaat (see foot note), will generate energy that is used for its own network. Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Schultz van Haegen-Maas Geesteranus (pictured above) writes this in a letter to parliament.
Berm grass for biogas
The road and the surrounding area have a role to play in energy production. Solar panels and windmills along highways, on dikes and sluice complexes and waterways provide electricity for traffic centres and roadside grass is harvested and converted into green gas.
In addition, development of asphalt which reduces fuel consumption will be encouraged as well as innovations such as a road that supplies the energy to the traffic that drives on it.
Energy neutral operations of bridges
Part of the plan is the energy neutral operation of newly constructed bridges or locks. After Ramspol Bridge at Kampen -likely the first movable bridge in the world that produces all the energy during the lifting operations itself needed to function- also the Beatrix lock in Nieuwegein and the lock at Terneuzen will become energy neutral. At the locks, the energy will be generated during the movement of the lock doors.
Also a stretch of the A6 motorway near Almere, being widened between 2017 and 2020, will be energy neutral. Near the road section solar poles will be placed to deliver just as much energy as is required for lighting and traffic management system on the road.
Innovation in sustainable materials
Rijkswaterstaat will also develop new business with the market parties to stimulate the use of innovations for sustainable materials and energy-neutral infrastructure contractors. Also the road authority is working to develop asphalt with less rolling resistance, which results in lower fuel consumption.
Furthermore, Rijkswaterstaat is looking at ways to build energy-generating highways in the Netherlands. This involves charging electric vehicles by induction while standing still or driving on the road.
Note: Rijkswaterstaat, founded in 1798 as the Bureau voor den Waterstaat, is part of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment