The Dutch main road system and water network will be operating in a fully energy neutral manner by 2030, Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure and the Environment) announced in a memorandum to the Dutch House of Representatives.

This means that new Rijkswaterstaat bridges, locks and sluices will generate energy to be used for its own network. Roads and the immediate vicinities will contribute to the generation of energy. Solar panels along roads, on dykes, on locks and sluices, and along waterways will supply energy to traffic control centers, and roadside grass cuttings will be converted to green gas.

Other focus areas include the development of asphalt that reduces fuel consumption, and innovations such as roads supplying energy to the traffic using them.

Minister Schultz intends to have infrastructure managed by Rijkswaterstaat – roads, waterways, flood defence systems, locks, sluices and bridges – operate in a fully energy neutral manner by 2030.

Rijkswaterstaat will use its networks and acreage to contribute to the generation of sustainable energy and promote the use of sustainable fuels. In addition, the managing authority of the Dutch infrastructure will boost innovations through its contracts with market entities.

“The quality of the Dutch infrastructure ranks among the top three in the world,” said Minister Schultz. “It is important for us to work on the infrastructure of the future. Innovations offer a host of opportunities for making our infrastructure smarter and more sustainable. Not only will this improve traffic circulation on the roads, it will also enhance the beauty and liveability of our country. Furthermore, it allows us to tap into new markets for companies with innovative solutions.”

Strategies to become energy neutral

A component of the plan is the energy neutral operation of new bridges, locks or sluices to be constructed. For example, following the Ramspol bridge near Kampen, as far as we know the first moving bridge whose lifting motion generates all the energy required for its operation, the Beatrix lock near Nieuwegein and the Terneuzen lock will become energy neutral. The movement of the lock doors will generate the energy.

The stretch of the A6 motorway near Almere, scheduled to be widened between 2017 and 2020, will also be energy neutral. Solar panels will be installed near that stretch of road that will supply all the energy required to operate the road lighting and traffic management systems.

Furthermore, in collaboration with market entities, Rijkswaterstaat will be developing new contracts to encourage contractors to adopt the innovations relating to the use of sustainable materials and energy neutral infrastructure.

In addition, the road maintenance authority is working on the development of low rolling resistance asphalt, which will reduce fuel consumption. Rijkswaterstaat is also examining the options for constructing energy generating roads in the Netherlands, allowing induction charging of electric vehicles while stationary or moving along the road.