Colas, a French Company, has been testing out a new solar road technology for over five years. The technology goes by the name of Wattway Solar Roads, and the company plans to test over 100 different sites for the road in 2017.
The panels that make up the solar road way were composed by the company’s subsidiary. They are capable of carrying the weight of an 18-wheeler truck. While the company plans on testing the solar road at over 100 sites, they will not become available commercially until 2018.
The road is composed of layers and layers of panels, which provides it with the durability necessary to hold the weight of an 18-wheeler as well as continuous traffic over time. The solar panel itself is actually found beneath the layers of plastic, similar to the way that Tesla’s Solar Roof tiles are created. To top the surface off, crushed glass is added to the surface to create grip so that vehicles don’t slide.
At one test site in Normandy, France, it is expected that the area will generate 280 kilowatts of electricity during its peak, which will be created from over 2,800 square meters of panel. The electricity created from this project would power an entire town with a population of 5,000 for a year.
Currently, the cost is too high to go past the testing phase, however, Colas says that by 2020 the price will have decreased enough to compete with solar farms.
Electricity produced by the roads will be enough to power a hydrogen production plant, charge electric vehicles, power electric billboards, and over time, will provide enough power for street lights.
Renewable energy projects like this, and many others that have been introduced this year are amazing examples of technology being used for the greater good of mankind. Over the past year, we have seen the advancement of many projects, including the Asian Super-Grid, which will use wind and solar technologies to power parts of various countries throughout the world. Another project out of California, which used both solar power and water desalination could provide and endless amount of drinking water and electricity. It seems as though while this year has come with a plethora of ups and downs, one thing is has provided us with is a new outlook on the possibility of endless sources of renewable energy.