Village opens world's first solar road spanning 0.6 miles

A tiny French village called Tourouvre-au-Perche has become the first in the world to open a road that is covered in solar panels. The route spans 1km, or about 0.6 miles and the surface of the road is covered in solar panels that will collect electricity. The span of road has 2,800 square meters of solar panels on it and was unveiled on Thursday by French ecology minister Ségolène Royal.

The very short span of road cost €5m to build and will support the use of about 2,000 motorists per day over the 2-year testing period. During the test period, studies will prove the solar roadway's ability to gather enough electricity to power street lights in the village of 3,400 residents.

Previously a solar bike path was opened in The Netherlands and has been able to generate 3,000 kWh of energy, which is enough power for an average family home for a year. The big catch is that the bike path reportedly cost about €3m to construct and the build price would have purchased 520,000 kWh of power making it an expensive proposition.

The French solar road is called Wattway and was opened on the RD5 road in the village. The panels used in the build had been tested in four car parks around France for durability. The company that built the road is Colas and the construction was financed by the state.

Interestingly the Normandy region where the solar road was built isn't known for sunny days. The area enjoys on average 44 days of strong sun per year. The panels used in the road construction are covered in a resin containing fine sheets of silicon and are said to be strong enough to support all traffic.

SOURCE: The Guardian