The First Solar Road Has Been Installed In France
It’s not just solar panels on roofs anymore – the first solar panels to be installed on a roadway is now here. For the first time ever, road solar panels have been installed in a small village in France. Located in Normandy, but more specifically, Tourouvre-au-Perche, the panels cover a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) stretch of road.
While it is a small feat in technology, it comes with a hefty price tag. The cost? $5.2 million for enough solar panels to cover 30,000 sq ft.
In order to withstand the pressure and weight from passing vehicles and transport trucks, a silicon-based resin has been used to cover the panels. It’s expected that around 2,000 motorists will be using the roadway each day and the panels will be tested over the next two years. Ideally, the town inhabited by 3,400 people will have all of their street lights powered by the solar panels during this time.
For Ségolène Royal, the French Ecology Minister who opened the road on December 22, 2016, this is the first trial in what she hopes will lead to more solar panels being installed along 1,000 kilometers of highways around France.
However, this won’t come with it’s fair share of challenges. Costs will definitely need to be looked at – there’s no way anyone will (nor should) pay $5.2 million for each 1-km stretch of solar roadway. The second is efficiency. Since these panels lay flat, they’re already less effective than their angled counterparts located on rooftops.
If these obstacles can be overcome, it will no doubt be a great step forwards for renewable energy.