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Live Labs blog: Project update - location, location, location!

15 November 2019

This month’s project update comes from the East of England and the team from Central Bedfordshire. 

Kinetic walkways, solar carparks and thermal de-icing are the exciting new trials being developed by the Central Bedfordshire Live Labs team.

Harvesting renewable energy to support the smart highways of the future is the focus for the team, which includes Ringway Jacobs, Eurovia, Colas and PaveGen. When colleagues from the Department for Transport visited last week, the team were keen to show how outline designs were shaping up for the proposed site locations:

  • PaveGen: create a kinetic walkway at Leighton Buzzard Railway Station to power smart benches and lighting.
  • Power Road: generate thermal energy to de-ice the carpark and heat the office at Thorn Turn Highways Depot.
  • Watt Way: install a solar carpark surface to light offices at Thorn Turn Highways Depot.

They’ve certainly got lots to do!

Great progress has been made with their partners to develop detailed designs for the schemes and develop a final programme for delivery, but of course, things haven’t all been plain sailing.

One of the team’s biggest challenges has been finding the right locations after more detailed scoping works found two of the original sites to be unsuitable.

The team discovered that the original plan, to trial a solar walkway alongside a stretch of the A421 to power lighting at night, became uneconomic once the cost of battery storage was factored in. As a result, the trial was moved to Thorn Turn Highways Depot where the energy generated can be used immediately to light the depot offices. The thermal project was also transferred to Thorn Turn Highways Depot when the team found that the PowerRoad technology wasn’t compatible with the permeable paving surface at the Sandy Depot. 

The Central Beds team are all innate problem-solvers and these challenges have been swiftly overcome. They are really excited to break ground on all three trials in the new year and plan to have them all up and running by April 2020. 

Be sure to catch the Central Beds team at the ADEPT Autumn Conference