2 October 2023
The solar powered cycle path generates electricity while promoting soft mobility. Photo: SIG.
On 11 September, SIG (Services industriels de Genève) and the Canton of Geneva unveiled Switzerland’s first solar-powered cycle path, “Solar Horizon”, located on the route cantonale in Satigny. This innovative installation covers with a photovoltaic roof a section of cycle path over 200 metres long. It will produce almost 200,000 kWh of electricity a year thanks to more than 860 m2 of photovoltaic modules. This pilot solar roofing project for cycle paths is a Swiss first. It will increase the production of renewable and local electricity, while promoting soft mobility.
At a time of climate emergency and in line with the ecological transition objectives of the canton of Geneva, championed by SIG, the development of solar energy is an essential asset that means making the most of every surface that can be used. It is against this backdrop that SIG has launched an architectural competition in 2021 to create a prototype photovoltaic solar cover for a cycle path in the canton of Geneva. This project, carried out in the commune of Satigny, now provides an opportunity to assess the technical feasibility of such an installation.
Operational from the end of June 2023, after 6 months of construction work, this new solar power installation will produce almost 200,000 kWh per year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 65 Geneva households. It is made up of 468 bifacial, translucent and watertight solar modules, capable of producing between 5 and 15% more energy on both sides than conventional photovoltaic modules. The solar energy will be re-injected into the Geneva grid. For Christian Brunier, Chief Executive Officer of SIG, “this operation is part of our public service company’s strategy to develop renewable energies, to produce photovoltaic electricity and to reduce CO2 emissions in the canton of Geneva”. He added: “This innovative project shows that we can use technology on different types of surface to improve our environment, while limiting our impact on the ground.
The design of this pilot project was assigned to the architects Colucci & Colucci – Design et Architecture, who won the competition. Developed in consultation with nature, heritage and landscape conservation authorities, the installation uses recycled concrete for the foundations, a metal structure and a secondary structure made of local wood, enabling it to blend seamlessly into the landscape. Besides its aesthetic appeal, the photovoltaic roof is also innovative. The construction of this installation, located on the cycle path, was guided by technical imperatives, namely the installation of concrete foundations, taking into account the existing underground networks.
The cost of the project, estimated at 1.5 million Swiss francs, was financed by SIG, the contracting authority; a long-term investment in sustainable technologies and innovative projects. This prototype photovoltaic roof will be evaluated and may be developed in Geneva and perhaps elsewhere in Switzerland. In the long term, this type of project will increase the production of renewable and local energy, while preserving the beauty of the area and promoting soft mobility, sheltering users from the sun and bad weather. Other projects in the canton are under study.