However, to achieve the emission reduction targets by 2030 we must go even further, so we want to study whether fitting renewable energy generation mechanisms in the city's pavements can make a significant contribution: Barcelona has around 1,380 linear km of streets, with a surface area of 11 km2 of pavements and 9 km2 of pavements, which is more than its 17.64 km2 of roofs. In addition, the city is in the process of rehabilitating a significant portion of its road surfaces.
In view of this, the Barcelona Energy Agency (AEB) and the i.lab programme have launched the challenge entitled "Energy-generating pavements: how can we incorporate local renewable energy generation into the city's pavements?" with the aim of finding potential solutions for the local generation of renewable energy in pavements and studying the feasibility of implementing them in Barcelona’s streets, squares and access pavements.
With this goal in mind, we are looking for solutions to pilot test the generation of renewable energy in the city's pavements and assess the results over a six-month period.
As explained above, we are looking for solutions to this challenge, with the following considerations:
- The solutions must cover the city’s current energy uses and consumptions, without creating any new ones even if they are covered by renewable energies.
- The solution must indicate how the power generated will be evacuated and injected into the city's electricity grid.
- It must be designed to be fitted in the public space, outdoors, and with all the safety and robustness requirements that this entails.
- We are therefore looking for an operational and functional management solution (installation, power evacuation, maintenance, etc.), and not just a technological one.
The winning proposal will receive a €30,000 subsidy award to carry out a pilot test in the city of Barcelona.
The City Council's response
A number of initiatives to test innovative technologies applied to the public space have been promoted by the City Council. Although in terms of power generation, pilot installations testing new technologies - such as hydrogen or solar cooling - and technological solutions to increase the performance of installations have previously been implemented , the only tests carried out so far on pavements have involved photocatalysis. Furthermore, the benchmarking studies and analyses of energy-generating pavements carried out have not been followed by any action due to the immaturity of the technology at the time of the studies.
The lessons learned from these previous experiences show that incorporating new technologies into the city poses a considerable operational challenge, which is why this challenge seeks not only isolated technological solutions but, above all and as already pointed out, comprehensive operational management solutions.
Vision for the future:
If the outcome of the test pilot is satisfactory, we would like to propose that energy-generating city's pavements are incorporated into the city’s pavements rehabilitation processes in the medium term.