Back in February of this year, we revealed France’s plan to install solar panels on 1,000 km of its roads. As part of that initiative, the country’s Minister of Environment Marie-Ségolène Royal recently unveiled what they are claiming is the world’s very first solar road. Extending over a distance of one kilometer, the pathway in the Tourouvre-au-Perche region is fitted with as many as 2,800 square meters of photovoltaic cells.
Based on an innovative new technology developed by French company Colas Wattway, the road is designed to power street lights in a village of over 3,400 people. In addition to five layers of toughened silicon, the developers covered the solar panels in resin to prevent any kind of damage. According to the team, the solar pathway is capable of producing nearly 280 megawatts of energy every year, given there’s ample sunlight during daytime.
During the summer months, the daily electrical output could well rise from 767 kWh to more than 1,500 kWh. Despite its many impressive features, the solar power road comes with a hefty price tag of around €5 million (approx. £4.3m). Speaking about the newly-opened track, whose resilience and efficiency will be tested over the next two years, Jean-Charles Broizat, the director of Colas Wattway, said:
We are still on an experimental phase. Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation. This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panel installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimizing our innovation.
The staggeringly high cost, however, has left many skeptical. Marc Jedliczka, the Vice President of Network for Energetic Transition, was reported saying:
It’s without doubt a technical advance, but in order to develop renewables there are other priorities than a gadget of which we are more certain that it’s very expensive than the fact it works.
To learn more about the project, head over to the official website of Colas Wattway.
Via: Ars Technica