Solar roadway under construction in France

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PV Magazine

The Wattway technology by Colas uses solar PV to create durable and electricity generating roadways. Colas

The Wattway technology by Colas uses solar PV to create durable and electricity generating roadways.

French energy minister Ségolène Royal inaugurated yesterday the construction of one kilometer of solar road in France’s northwestern department Orne.

The construction of the first solar road in Orne, France has now begun. French energy minister Ségolène Royal had traveled to Orne in the summer to inaugurate a manufacturing plant that will produce the so-called “Wattway” paving, made from solar PV.

On Monday, Royal made the same trip to inaugurate the construction of the first solar road. The solar road will be approximately 1km long and 2 m wide, covering an area of 2,800 m².

Colas, which is the French company behind the Wattway innovation, said the installation of the 1km solar road will be completed by December 2016.

Upon its completion, the solar road in Orne will be connected to the ENEDIS electricity distribution network and is expected to generate 17,963 kWh of electricity per day, which is enough for the public lighting of a town of 5,000 inhabitants, added Royal.

Furthermore, the energy ministry said, the site will enable firstly the evaluation of construction techniques for solar roads at large scale; and secondly, the assessment of the technology in terms of its behaviour over time under traffic and in terms of energy efficiency.

The project is funded by the French energy ministry, while in the summer Royal had also announced the mobilization of €5 million in state funding to support the development of the Wattway photovoltaic panel at the Société Nouvelle Areacem (SNA) factory, which is in the same area.

Royal has never hidden her enthusiasm for the Wattway innovation and her visits both in July and this week aim to showcase the government’s support for the solar roads concept. She has also publicly spoken of the development of the solar roads as a part of the country’s energy transition to green growth and, at the same time, creating new jobs.

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.  

  • john

    I honestly can not see this as a very good idea perhaps put those panels over the car parks on the roofs but under the road and the figures do show that it is not exactly very efficient. I know there is a bike track with the same idea but honestly to me it is not exactly brilliant use of the money.

    • Brunel

      What if someone does a burnout on the road? There goes the electricity production.

      There would have to be a thick layer of glass or plastic on the road.

      Solar panels embedded in roads has always been a silly idea when barren land is cheap and can be connected to cities via UHVDC transmission lines.

      Some green groups want to mandate rooftop solar when ground mounted solar is cheaper.

      • john

        well true however perhaps on France a fairly heavily populated country there would not be huge areas of spare land. I know they do use car parks and roof areas.
        My main beef is the cost to produce the output of say a 80kw system costing $140k at the most.

        • Brunel

          As if the nuclear reactors in France do not use land.

          And they could put solar panels above railway tracks – which would probably be cheaper.

          • Ian

            Perhaps they can put solar panels on the nuclear reactors 😉

          • john

            I think 17 or them are closed for safety checks and repairs.

  • George Darroch

    I don’t understand this. One of the dirtiest, most high-wear environments you can find, and you put panels there?

  • Ken Fabian

    Surely these will be engineered to cope with the expected conditions – most of the objections appear to be based on the assumption that they are not. And the most hard wear areas – sharp bends, intersections where hard braking and acceleration are expected – can, like those with low sun exposure, be left out. The means for replacing damaged sections seems to me to be a basic design requirement; there will inevitably be accidents that do damage beyond simple wear.

    It’s a worthwhile exercise to trial this technology – for Australia, with so much road surface with high sun exposure it could have a lot of potential. Whether it’s ultimately more cost effective than mounted panels along road verges or as awnings has yet to be shown. And of course the technology either way is constantly being improved.

    • Brunel

      There is so much barren land in AUS where solar power stations can be built.

      You could also install solar panels above railway tracks.

      • john

        Why bother with that just use the vast vacant land like million of square kilometers of vacant land.

  • Alan S

    ‘The solar road will be approximately 1km long and 2 m wide, covering an area of 2,800 m² and is expected to generate 17,963 kWh of electricity per day’. Are daily kWh/m2 levels and panel efficiency that high – or am I missing something?

    • john

      To check figures 17963*365 = 6,556,495kWh per year.
      2800 m*2 would work out at 2341 kwh per sq meter per year.

      1.9 by .99 usual size of a 250 watt panel 1.881 sq meter.
      a 5 kw system would put out 8000 kw in a very good area on earth this will be less but go with it
      1.881*20 = 37.62 sq meters: output per sq meter = 8000/37.62 = 212.65 kwr per sq meter.

      So yes the figures do not add up it is overstated by well over 10 times perhaps the roadway is 6 meters wide more like it not 2, unless the panels are put down the middle strip between both traffic lanes.
      Perhaps it is the output per year not per day there is a maths problem here.

    • john

      just look at my post below to understand the outcome.
      This is not a good idea
      Put the solar panels on a walk way beside the road and the outcome is like so much better.

    • Objectif Terre

      It’s pure propaganda from the (very stupid) french Minister of energy, Ségolène Royal. Debunked here:

  • Objectif Terre