In the French town of Tourouvre au Perche, the world’s first solar panel road opened for use in 2016. This road is one kilometer long, has 2,800 square meters of solar panel cells, and produces enough energy to power all its own street lights.
The road was built by Colas, a European construction company that is building its own solar road tech, called Wattway. Presented by the French Ecology Minister on the day it opened, this solar powered road cost about 5.2million dollars to build and design. All the solar panels are protected by a silicon resin and can withstand the weight of a multi-ton MAC truck.
Issues with solar panel roads
The largest issues standing in the way of solar panel roads is the cost of construction and maintenance. A solar panel road uses flat panels which produce less energy than angled solar panels. This means the 5.2 million-dollar price tag will take years to meet with the energy savings of the solar road; that is not including maintenance when a panel breaks or is damaged.
The future of solar roads
Many companies are working to overcome the issues that solar powered roads are currently facing by trying to make their products cheaper. At 10 million dollars a kilometer, it would cost most countries billions of dollars to create solar panel roads.
Solar Roadways, an American based company, is the leader in solar powered roads and smart highways. They are currently developing several prototypes for cheaper solar road solutions, including making the panels from recycled products and already existing roads without the need to repave.
How do you feel about the use of solar roads?
Let us know in the comment section below!