While slightly more than two years ago The Netherlands took the wraps off a solar panel road, that was just a bike pathway. Now France is first to present a solar panel road for cars.
The authorities spent €5 million and the route is currently one kilometer long – being located in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perch in Normandy. There are a total of 2, 800 square meters of panels that can snatch Sun power to deliver electricity, with the solar panel road already functional following the opening event in the presence of France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal. Financed by the local government, the one-kilometer road has been nicknamed “Wattway” and was constructed by Colas (part of the Bouygues Telecom group) – with the solar panels tested in advance at four car parks across the country.
The road will see about 2,000 daily drivers and will take part in a two year test to see if it can deliver the necessary electricity to light up the streets of the village inhabited by around 3,400 people. Royal thinks solar panels could one day cover one in every 1,000 kilometers of the highway network in France. Of course it remains to be seen if it’s a viable investment – considering there are only 44 days of powerful sunshine annually in Caen, the region’s political capital (Marseilles sees approximately 170 days of strong sunshine) and the production costs are extremely high at the moment.