The first energy neutral bridge in the world was officially opened in the Netherlands by sounding a foghorn on the 13-metre high Ramspol Bridge. “The Netherlands is showing its best side here. The new Ramspol Bridge is an innovation icon,” according to Minister Schultz van Haegen (Infrastructure & the Environment).
The Ramspol Bridge links the provinces of Flevoland and Overijssel and, to the best of our knowledge, it is the first energy neutral bridge in the world. The motor that operates the moveable section of the bridge recovers energy when the bridge deck is opened and closed. This green energy is stored in batteries. With the 320 solar panels that have been installed on both its sides, the bridge produces at least as much electricity as it needs. The surplus green electricity is delivered to the grid.
Today, the project was awarded the Energy Neutral Prize for its special technology. At the opening, Lodewijk de Waal, chair of Hier Klimaatbureau (an initiative of civil society organisations aimed at involving the whole of the Netherlands in solving climate-related problems) presented the prize to the Minister. The Energy Neutral prize is an initiative of HIER Klimaatbureau and the trade association NLengineers. The prize draws attention to appealing, sustainable civil engineering, road construction and hydraulic engineering projects. In 2010, Rijkswaterstaat (the executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & the Environment) won an award for sustainable initiatives within the operations of the central government.
The opening of the Ramspol Bridge has widened the N50 motorway for traffic in both directions. Since the new bridge is higher than the old one, the number of times the bridge needs to be opened has been considerably reduced. The expectation is that instead of being opened 8000 times a year, from now on the bridge will be opened 1800 times a year. This will benefit traffic flows on the roads as well as on water. The Ramspol-Ens route has been extended and widened to 2×2 lanes along a 6-kilometre stretch. A grade separation has replaced five at-grade separations which considerably improves road safety.
The implementation of the N50 Ramspol-Ens project began in 2010. The original delivery date was the end of 2013. During construction, this was brought forward to the beginning of 2013. This acceleration was in part due to lean planning which involved different disciplines within the N50 Infrateam working alongside each other rather than after one another. In the end, the Ramspol Bridge was ready for use a further two months ahead of schedule.
Connection with the new parallel road and the cycle path will be slightly later, in mid-December. Until then, slow traffic and cyclist will use the old Ramspol Bridge which is due to be demolished in 2013.
Source: Dutch government