The world’s first solar panel road has been opened in France.
The 1km (0.6-mile) road, opened on 22 December, is located in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche and is covered with 2,800 sq m of electricity-generating panels.
The company behind the construction, Wattway, said they expect the solar panel road to produce 280MWh per year, depending on the weather. CEO, Jean-Charles Broizat said:
This project is an important step in the development of the wattway solar road and we will keep on experimenting and testing. Building an application site of this magnitude is a real opportunity for our innovation. This application site has enabled us to improve our process of installing photo-voltaic panels as well as their manufacture, in order to optimise our solution as best as possible.
The development is a fantastic step forward for the renewable energy sector. However, the project was not cheap. In total, the road cost around €5m (£4.2m) to construct. Likewise, many are waiting with bated breath to see if the road can actually perform to expected standards.
Watch France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, open the road:
The new road will be tested for two years to evaluate its lifespan and output. During this period an expected 2,000 motorists will use the road every day, with a village of 3,400 residents relying on its energy to power their homes.
At the opening, Royal revealed she would like to see solar panels installed on one in every 1,000km of French highway.