Do you remember the solar roads? A similar idea was put into practice in France: a small town of 3,400 people in Normandy won on Wednesday (21) the world’s first solar-powered road capable of generating electricity to power the region’s public lighting network.
The solar panel section is 1 km long and costs 5 million euros (approximately 17 million US dollars). More than 2,000 drivers are expected to cross the Wattway every day, and the technology will be tested over the next two years to see if it is truly viable. Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal says one of the plans is to build 1 km of solar panels for every 1,000 km of French roads.
Not everyone liked the idea: compliant the Guardian , The Netherlands did a similar project in 2014, only on bike lanes. The solar panel is 70 meters long and generates 3,000 kWh, which is enough to power a family home for a year. The problem is that the project cost 3 million euros (the equivalent of 10 million dollars). With all this money, it would be possible to pay 520,000 kWh of energy.
The reasons for rejection are simple. First of all, the technology is too expensive: solar panels need to be more durable, so that thousands of bicycles, cars or even trucks can pass without damaging them daily. The solar road in Normandy is covered with a resin containing thin sheets of silicon, which theoretically allows the transit of trucks weighing more than 3,500 kg.
In addition, precisely because they are on the ground, without the possibility to change the angles to keep up with the movement of the sun, these solar panels generate 30% less energy than if they were on a roof, it even costs much more. In the case of the small French town, the situation is even worse, as there are only 44 sunny days during the year (compared to 170 in Marseille, for example).
It’s a great breakthrough, but maybe the technology needs to improve a lot to be really interesting.
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