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First SolarRoad Normandy

First SolarRoad NormandyIn Normandy (France) the first electric road has been build. In 2016, Colas announced four SolarRoad pilots which would be built in 2017.

Just a few weeks ago, the first solar roadway for cars opened in the French village of Tourouvre in Normandy.

This could be a first huge step forward, as French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal wants to see these panels cover 1,000 kilometers if this test road proves to be effective.

  • Route in Tourouvre-au-Perche costed €5m (£4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during two-year test period
  • The expected annual results are around 280 MWh, while daily production results are expected to vary between 767 kWh and 1,500 kWh – all dependent on seasonal and weather changes in the area.
  • An information panel is placed near the road to calculate real-time production, as well as total amount of energy produced since installation. The electricity generated by the road will be used to power the town’s street lights. This will create a visual result, as well as control the test to a specific area of the electric grid for both Colas and Enedis.

Pro’s and con’s SolarRoads

Before the SolarRoad – called Wattway, division on Colas – was opened on the RD5 road, the panels were tested at four car parks across France.

  • Eco
    The major benefit of solar roads is that they create renewable energy. This way developers plan to decrease fossil fuel consumption and provide cities with renewable source of energy. Electricity generated by PV solar systems is eco-friendly and gives off no contamination. It is beneficial for both environment and government, this is why so many countries encourage their citizens to install photovoltaic.
  • Energy Performance
    Normally, pavements are occupied by vehicles some 10% of the time. So 90% of the time, a solar road is able to generate energy facing the sky. Wattway’s tests proved that 20 m² of the panels would provide enough electricity to power a single home. A one-kilometer stretch of road paved with Wattway can provide the electricity to power the public lighting of a city of 5,000 inhabitants.
  • Safety: structure of the road surface
    Surely, officials demand proof of the road’s safety. With all tractions and all weathers. So it also should be water proof. Colas has tested the integrated glass panels and ensures their creation is safe and durable. Even in times of bad weather and for big trucks.Tests have shown that they can bear one million truck tire passes without damage. But what when it have snowed a lot? Let’s wait for the test this year.
    Wattway composed cells inserted in superposed layers that ensure resistance and tire grip.Colas said the panels have been covered with a resin containing fine sheets of silicon, making them tough enough to withstand all traffic, including HGVs. The composite material is just a few millimeters thick, making it possible to adapt to thermal dilation in the pavement, as well as vehicle loads, a guarantee of durability and safety.
  • Costs
    One major drawback of this project is its cost. The issue is that panels on the road cannot tilt. This is why they get less direct sunlight than cells allocated on the roof. However, with the increased efficiency it will be possible to make this idea pay off.
    Another issue is the installation but Wattway has solved this issue. Wattway can be applied directly on the current pavement, without any need for civil engineering work.No need to rip out the existing structure.

Link to the FAQ for more information

Future

The company says it hopes to reduce the costs of producing the solar panels and has about 100 other projects for solar-panelled roads – half in France and half abroad. The constructor Colas, is part of the giant telecoms group Bouygues, and financed by the state.

More international SolarRoad projects

  1. The first solar roadway was installed in Sandpoint, Idaho (USA). The 30 panels are designed to generate power for a nearby fountain and restroom.
  2. In 2014, the Netherlands have installed the first solar cycling path. It is 70 meters long and generates enough power to supply 3 households.
  3. France is planning on building 1000 km (620 miles) of solar reads in the next five years.
  4. Mid 2016 Missouri announced a solar road on the famous Route 66. Costs or dates have not been announced yet.

Could this be the beginning of a new energy revolution?

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