First solar panel road installed in France

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In response to its announcement to add solar panels to 1,000km of its roads over the next five years, France installed the world’s first solar panel road In Tourouvre-au-Perche, Normandy, in December. The 1km route, known as ‘Wattway,’ features 2,880 photovoltaic panels and will generate approximately 767kWh of electricity per day (280MWh/year). It required €5 million of funding to build and was inaugurated last month by France’s Minister of Environment, Energy and Sea, Ségolène Royal.

Wattway technology has also been used to develop a an electric car charging station in the car park of a sports and cultural centre. (Credit: Wattway by Colas)

For the director of Wattway, Jean-Charles Broizat, the project is an important step in solar road development. ‘We are still on an experimental phase. Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation,' he said. 'This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panels installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimising our innovation.’

An information panel installed near the solar road will indicate the immediate electricity production in addition to the total production since the installation. This panel will be powered by electricity generated by the Wattway.

Launched in October 2015, Wattway is currently being evaluated for many applications at experimental sites around the world. In Georgia, USA, Wattway is currently in a partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation to install the first solar panel route in the United States on an 18-mile stretch of interstate road. The site will be dedicated to testing and creating ‘the highway of the future’.

Fifty square metres of Wattway solar panels have already been installed at the Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point, which will be powered by energy generated by Wattway. The average expected annual output of this installation is estimated to be 7,000kWh.

Wattway technology has also been used to in a trial application to develop a an electric car charging station in the car park of a sports and cultural centre in Roche-sur-Yon, France. With 42 panels covering a surface area of 50m², this pilot site will produce 6,300kWh/year.