The noise pollution issue in Europe: possible solutions

Pubblicato il: 20 dicembre 2017

According to a World Health Organization about 40% of the total population of all EU member-states is exposed to road traffic noise at levels higher than 55 dB (A), 20% to levels exceeding 65 dB (A) during the daytime and more than 30% of the population is exposed to levels exceeding 55 dB(A) during night time.

One of the most commonly used and effective ways of reducing noise pollution consists in installing noise barriers along thoroughfares. The major obstacles to their installation are their cost and the environmental factor. Especially because the noise pollution problem is real and perceived as such by a large share of the population, the estimate of the number of noise barriers to be installed is immense, but the number of installations actually executed is only a minimal part of what is needed because of their excessively high costs.

This puts us in a paradoxical situation whereby there is a situation of very strong discomfort due to the exposure to noise that is on the rise – as clearly reported by the Transport White Paper – but the old solutions to the problem are scarcely used due to their scarce efficiency.

Traditional noise barriers, in fact, are presented as artefacts designed to reduce the propagation of the sound waves to sensitive subjects and may be of an insulating sound type (consisting of a material that attenuates the sound wave passing through it), absorbing sound (composed of a low-density material capable of absorbing the incident sound energy) or reflective sound (for example, those made of transparent PMMA plates reflecting sound waves). There are also many types of materials used to make acoustic barriers: wood, steel, polymethylmethacrylate, glass, cement.

Etway has developed an innovative product to solve problems inherent to the old solutions against noise pollution, the Sound Solar Panel. The photovoltaic noise barrier, produced and sold by Etway, responds to the aforementioned problems in an intelligent way, combining excellent sound absorption characteristics (responding to the acoustic problem) with the possibility to produce energy through photovoltaic modules (it responds to an economic/energetic problem). The anti-noise panel has been realized with an innovative geometry specifically designed to optimally house frameless and custom photovoltaic modules and the relative electric cables; the inclination of the cells has been optimized in order to maximize energy production and the particular triangular shape of the section has the function of avoiding shading on the photovoltaic modules. The product has been tested and certified for both acoustic and structural characteristics. The ratings for the absorption and acoustic insulation of the panel have been calculated, obtaining an A4 classification for the sound absorption (UNI EN 1793-1) and B3 for the sound insulation (UNI EN 1793-2). The SSP has also passed the wind load resistance tests and has been CE marked.

The Sound Solar Panel was developed by Etway from 2009 and the following year it was installed in Borgo Valsugana (Trento, Italy) a prototype, still in excellent condition from both a structural and energy production point of view. In recent years several photovoltaic barriers have been created for both private and public administrations (Municipalities, Provinces / Regions), installing them where there was noise pollution produced by vehicles circulating on the busiest roads and in the vicinity of noise sources coming from industries and private activities.

A look back at the past, looking towards the future. Tradition and innovation. Etway’s photovoltaic noise barrier responds to an old problem with a new solution. Visit the product website for more informations and to download our brochure: Sound Solar Panel.