Combining photovoltaics and sound barriers : a feasibility studyCombining photovoltaics and sound barriers : a feasibility study
Faculty of Sciences. Bioscience Engineering
Environmental Ecology & Microbiology (ENdEMIC)
Engineering sciences. Technology
Renewable energy. - Oxford
46(2012), p. 297-303
In the light of global warming, renewables such as solar photovoltaics (PV) are important to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. An important issue regarding implementation of solar panels on large scale, is the limited available area. Therefore, it can be interesting to combine PV with alternative applications, as a ways of not requiring "additional" space. One example is a photovoltaic noise barrier (PVNB), where a noise barrier located along a highway or railway is used as substructure for PV modules. Even though a PVNB is not a novel concept, the absence of economic assessments in literature can be a barrier to their wider implementation. In this paper, a feasibility study of a PVNB in Belgium is conducted, using a cost benefit analysis including a Monte Carlo sensitivity analysis. Besides purely economic aspects, also ecological benefits are monetized. The sensitivity analysis indicates that the ecological benefit of noise reduction, which is valuated using a noise sensitivity depreciation index applied to real estate prices, is of major importance in determining the net present value of the case study. On the contrary, the impact of reducing CO2 emissions seems to be negligible when expressed in monetary terms. The results suggest that the PVNB as a whole and also its separate components -.e. the PV array and the noise barrier can be profitable projects, when ecological benefits are included. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.