France opens the world’s first Solar Road: see how it works


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The first solar road has opened this December in a little village of the French region of Normandy

Far away from that song of the Australian band AC DC called”Highway to hell” nowadays we can say that we have a “highway to sustainability”. Althought it´s only 1-km (0,6 milles) long, not enough to be considered as a highway, the solar road is here, and it has came to stay. The December of 2016 will be remember as the month when the world met the first solar road, a little step that could make the difference between the actual concept of a road and the future roads, based in renewables technologies, where we want to go to.

The road, conceived as a pedestrian walkaway, is 1 kilometer long and 2 meters wide, and is situated in a little village of Normandy. For the construction of this solar road, Colas, the head company of this kind of technology, has provided a material called “Wattway” paving, made from solar PV. Is expected to generate 17,963 kWh of electricity per day, which is enough for the public lighting of a town of 5,000 inhabitants. However, a power generation figure of 17,963 kWh of electricity per day sounds bizarre. The Wattway panel is said to generate 110 watts per m². If this is the case, an area of 2,800 m² (or 2,000 m² according to the ministry) cannot generate 17,963 kWh of electricity per day.

France is the first country that has developed a project to test whether solar panels can be implemented effectively at a large scale. The project is intended to “power the streetlights in the French town of Tourouvre-au-Perche”, as Ségolène Royal, the French Minisstry of the Environment, argued in the inauguration. Royal, also related that she would like to install solar panels “on one in every 1,000 km of French highway“.

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