This Solar Road Will Provide Power to 5 Million People


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Categories: Solar Power

The French government plans to pave 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of its roads with solar panels in the next five years, which will supply power to millions of people.

“The maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population,” Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, said according to Global Construction Review.

France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management said that 4 meters (14 feet) of solarized road would be enough to supply the electrical needs of one household, excluding heat. One kilometer (0.62 miles) will supply enough electricity for 5,000 residents.

The project is the result of five years of research between French road construction company Colas and the French National Institute of Solar Energy.

The project, “Wattway,” was introduced last October. The technology consists of extremely thin (7 millimeters) yet durable panels of polycrystalline silicon that can transform solar energy into electricity. The panels are also said to be 15 centimeters wide and heavy-duty skid resistant to reduce auto accidents.

“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,” Colas said in a press release.

The panels are rainproof and have passed snowplow tests “with flying colors,” according to the Wattway FAQ page. The company also boasts that their panels can last as long as conventional pavement, or 10 years depending on the traffic. Wattway panels can last roughly 20 years if the section is not heavily trafficked, such as stadium parking lot.

In terms of efficiency, Wattway said its panels have a 15 percent yield, compared to 18-19 percent for conventional photovoltaic panels.

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