France is coming up plans to utilize solar technology in new way, they had just built a road 1 km long which is known to be as solar road. This road project is deployed in Normandy, France for 2 year testing period and this is not some idea but real implementation. There were news coming out of France last year that they are to build a solar roadway of 1000 KM’s there by using that Colas’ Wattway solar pavement idea, its possible to be implemented on long term as facts are in favor of project due to improving solar technology with inclusion of new materials in production embedding solar into cells of roads, rather than installation on certain specific location on road or acquiring vacant land for it managing it sun path.
Wattway (Solar Road), is name of that road that actually is implemented with 2,880 solar panels used in it and covers a considerate distance of 1kilomter (0.6 Mile) situated in Tourouvre-au-Perche village.
“Each panel contains 15-cm wide polycrystalline silicon cells that transform solar energy into electricity. These extremely fragile photovoltaic cells are coated in a multilayer substrate composed of resins and polymers, translucent enough to allow sunlight to pass through, and resistant enough to withstand truck traffic. The surface that is in contact with vehicle tires is treated to ensure skid-resistance equivalent to conventional asphalt mixes.” – Wattway
As it is stated earlier the project is in testing phase and estimation reveals that approximately 2000 vehicles use this road every day. Energy generated from road is expected to be 280 (MWh), and it is estimated that 767 (kWh) with highest peak reaching up to (1,500 kWh) on regular basis energy will be included into Enedis (French electric power supply company) and is primarily used to run street lights in whole village.
“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 panels installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimizing our innovation.” – Jean-Charles Broizat, Wattway Director
Apart from everything whole cost and durability of road is another big question that energy generated is worth the cost that is spent in running the whole project. Normandy project announced last year has expensive cost of €5 million, the same amount can be used to buy excessive amount of electricity from another existing solar plant. Then what if project cost is high its worth the innovations being brought in by implementing them and even if after two year testing if results even not are in favorable will lead a way for further future projects either help them innovate more or historical record will help them to stay away from working on it, in every case it’s a good thing.
France is not the only country that invested in these projects, there is small section of same Colas’ Wattway solar panels installed in West Point, Georgia. That project is small testing project and covers 50 square meters and is expected to produce 7000 kWh/ year.