Italian designers Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino created a “Solar Wind” bridge concept for a Solar Park Works – Solar Highway competition in Italy. The competition called for designers to imagine new ways to reuse a decommissioned elevated highway, while incorporating renewable energy sources. For their creative concepts, the designers won second place in the competition, with an award of 7,500 Euros. First prize was 20,000.
In the proposed design, 26 wind turbines would be used in the understructure of the bridge. They would catch wind currents moving up the gorge and generate electricity. The road surface on the bridge would incorporate solar panels. According to the designers, the energy created by the wind and solar elements of the bridge could power 15,000 homes.
The bridge surface would also contain a green promenade where drivers could stop and enjoy the views. Additionally there would be soil beds for growing vegetables and fruits on the bridge, so visitors could purchase food. Though adding soil beds seems like it could create a lot of extra weight to the bridge, combined with many visitors which might decrease its lifespan. Also, would the emissions from vehicles crossing the bridge wind up in the produce grown on it?
Adding wind turbines makes sense because of the natural wind currents in a gorge, as does adding solar because of the large surface area. One might argue that adding the circular frames around the wind turbines with the rotating blades adds an aesthetic element to the bridge. Using clean technology in a bridge might help to promote the idea, since bridges are so often focal points. Initially it would probably generate a lot of press, and perhaps discussion when in use. Disadvantages of using a large number of wind turbines integrated into a bridge are the number of birds that might be killed by them, and potential damage caused by turbine vibration.
Image Credit: Parco Solare Sud