Solar panelled roads to be installed in France

France has made global headlines again for its move towards renewable energy, and this time it’s with a new system that will turn their roads into solar highways.

France has made global headlines again for its move towards renewable energy, and this time it’s with a new system that will turn their roads into solar highways.

France’s Minister of Ecology and Energy, Ségolène Royal, recently announced that France will be installing 1000km of solar panelled roads in a bid to provide renewable energy to its people.

The 1000km of road is a collaborative effort between Colas, a transport infrastructure company, and INES, France’s National Institute for Solar Energy. The installation is expected to take five years, with the project aiming to provide affordable renewable energy. Early estimates look promising; with data indicating that the roads will generate enough power to service up to five million homes.

The project harnesses the Wattway panel system, which sees photovoltaic panels glued on top of existing road surfaces. This means current roads don’t need to be resurfaced or replaced. The system is 7mm thick – quite different from designs looked at in the past which have used thick glass panels and according to some experts, have been overly complex.

Wattway solar road panels

Colas has advised that the material will stand up to average traffic levels in France and cope with heavy trucks. It’s thought that 20m2 of Wattway panels could provide the electricity needed to power the average single home in France.

The project is set to start in 2016, with cost and locations yet to be disclosed. While some countries, including the Netherlands and some parts of America have experimented with solar paving, this is the first project to see panels laid on top of existing roadways.

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References

1. Wattwaybycolas.com/en
2. treehugger.com
3. Video: Wattwaybycolas.com/en

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