Solar power has been used to make salt water drinkable, power vehicles and produce heating for our homes.

Thanks to photovoltaics, we are able to harness the power of the sun and put it to any number of ingenious and unique uses.

Now, thanks to a Buckinghamshire environmental group, solar panels may be used as a noise reduction barrier on the M40.

The M40 Chilterns Environmental Group (M40CEG) has been battling the noise pollution from a 20-mile section of the M40 for eight years.

Wycombe District Councillor Jean Teesdale said: "The noise along the M40 corridor is a problem that has blighted the lives of local people for many years now.

"Generating energy from motorway noise barriers is groundbreaking – we'd love to make our part of the M40 the first place in the country to have this."

Solar panel noise barriers do already exist in other countries, including Australia, which saw its first solar panel noise barrier installed along a 500 metre stretch of motorway in 2007.

The local group proposed the installation of barriers with built-in solar panels which won the support of the Highways Agency and Wycombe District Council.

It has been estimated that the installation of these barriers would improve the quality of life for around 20,000 people residing close to the motorway.

Energy generated by the solar panels could be used to power local homes, or be fed into the national grid.

Plans include the formation of a co-operative enterprise that would be expected to raise funds for the construction of the integrated barriers.

Charles Meakings, head of democratic, legal and policy services at Wycombe District Council, said: "We are excited and inspired at the opportunity to work with M40CEG on such an innovative and pioneering project and delighted to be part of a ground-breaking partnership between our local communities, local and central government."

The Co-operative group have called this endeavour a "particularly exciting project with enormous potential" so hopefully it will only be a matter of time until these plans come to fruition.

If successful, these barriers could be rolled out across the country.