Basically a structured pathway that connects two disjointed land masses or isolated spots, bridges are integral to any construction plan. Although bridges are essentially built as a crossing over deep water bodies, bottomless valleys or railway tracks, it is quite likely that they might outgrow their primary function in the coming future. Designers and architects are realizing that apart from just linking two different sites, bridges can be put to many other uses as well. While they stand outdoors at a fixed spot, bridges endure and hold out against the changing weather. As bridges are constantly exposed to external climatic conditions, it is very easy to harness energy and generate eco friendly power using them.
All bridges are exposed to natural conditions like bright sunlight, blustery winds, rippling waves and strong undercurrents. With the energy crisis looming close, there is an imperative need to generate renewable power and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Bridges fit the bill perfectly and can be used to produce clean and green power.
Besides this, there are many other advantages of using bridges for power generation. Firstly, the mechanism will use only natural resources, thus will be cost effective. Furthermore, as no additional land area will be required for a power plant, the plan is also space saving. This is definitely a boon considering the fact that land area will have to be used judiciously in the future. Industrial expansion usurps a lot of land, leaving lesser area for the development of plant and human populace. But this nifty plan takes care of this drawback too.
The very fact that bridges will be utilized to produce eco friendly power means that the project has a horde of green benefits up its sleeve. This project will surely help to reduce carbon emissions and discharge of other hazardous fumes into the surroundings. There is no doubt therefore that these are structures for the future. In the imminent years, the supply of conventional fuels will dwindle, thus setting off the need to source alternative fuels.
In addition, the plan saves on land space, which will also become scarce in the coming years. Moreover, these bridges will house other green facilities and functions also. Like, some of these bridges will accommodate public recreation centers while others will have vertical farms. As land space becomes scarce in the future, projects that use land area optimally will be welcomed whole heartedly.
Perks of using bridges to generate eco friendly power are manifold. Firstly, the towering height of the bridges is advantageous. At higher altitudes, bridges are exposed to strong crosswinds, which can yield copious amount of power. Also, sunlight streams down on bridges in abundance. Thus, installing wind turbines and solar panels here can turn out to be very productive. Wind turbines can also be integrated in between the pillars while solar PV panels can be deployed along the walkways. So, it is possible to put together a solar wind bridge.
Moreover, the plan will also help to cut down expenditure incurred to generate energy. The infrastructure cost will be eliminated as a separate energy farm or power plant will not be needed. Instead, an existing structure will be developed further and utilized for power generation. However, the task of fitting in so many functions into a single structure is definitely not a simple one. All such projects are currently in the making and it is not certain if they will see the light of the day. The breakthrough designs are quite challenging and require plenty of innovation as well as technical skill. Hence, the concept still remains tentative.
1. “Solar Wind” Building a bridge to renewable energy
This project connecting Bagnera and Scilla in Italy will include wind turbines as well as solar cells, which will produce 11.2 and 36 million kWh of power respectively every year. This structure will provide energy to about 15000 homes. The wind turbines will be installed between the pillars of the bridge while the solar cells will be embedded on the walkways. The greenhouse located on top will not only grow produce but also vend it out to people driving by. The proposed design was an entry at a solar highways competition called Solar Park Works and was conceived by three Italian designers – Giovanna Saracino, Luisa Saracino and Francesco Colarossi.
2. Planning Korea envisions solar-clad bridge
The 1080m bridge, linking the Dang-Li power plant and National Assembly, which are separated by the Han River, is truly multipurpose. The Seoul based structure will integrate a power generation plant, recreation center and also a docking station for vehicles and waterborne vessels. The power produced by the all new Paik Nam June Media Bridge will be send out to public organizations like library, museum and an IT complex constructed on it. There will be a horizontal garden on each floor and promenades for walking and biking. The gardens will receive natural sunlight and ventilation thanks to the modeling of the structure that is also capable of holding rain water.
3. London Bridge
This famous overpass on top of the Thames River will get a facelift owing to the design plan by Laurie Chetwood. The structure will have spires for producing solar as well as wind energy. It will also incorporate an organic vertical farm and a commercial center. Renewable energy produced by the bridge will power up the farm, commercial center and heating up of the structure. Other eco friendly add-ons of the building are rainwater harvesting and natural ventilation. All this will transform the bridge into public hub and an organic marketplace for buying fresh produce.
4. Cross-wind bridge
A 40m long passage running over Segunda Circular Highway in Lisbon will be outfitted with 2000 lightweight rotating panels. The wind velocity produced by autos zooming under the bridge will be increased by 20 percent by a truss system incorporated into the structure. This along with the induction power system and electromagnetic band will be able to light up the bridge during night time. The structure will be made from concrete stairs and footing as well as recycled steel sourced from the auto industry. A tunnel for walkers and bikers will also be built into the structure.