France Is Now Home To A ‘Solar Road’

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A ‘solar road’ is now open for use in Normandy, France. The one-kilometre trial installation, known as Wattway, is made up of 2,880 photovoltaic panels and was unveiled by Ségolène Royal, the French minister of environment. According to its makers, the road is expected to produce 280 megawatt hours per year. The electricity produced by the road will be fed into the network of French electricity provider Enedis. “We are still (in)… an experimental phase,” Jean-Charles Broizat, a Wattway director, said in a news release. “Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation,” he added. The synthesis between solar power and transport is becoming increasingly common. Earlier this year, the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft completed a round-the-world trip powered solely by the sun, while Solar Team Eindhoven – made up of students from the Eindhoven University of Technology – have been designing and developing solar powered vehicles for several years. The solar roadway in Normandy was a rather expensive stretch of road, considering that it’s not actually a new roadbed, but is instead installed over the top of the road, with reporting a cost of some €5 million for the project, which could probably buy a massive amount of electricity from an existing solar plant. It’s only 1 kilometer long, but a two-year test of the solar road will help determine if a full rollout of 1000 km of solar roads in the country is worth pursuing.