The future is here! World’s first ‘solar highway’ was inaugurated by France on Thursday, 22nd Dec 2016. The road is covered with sophisticated solar panels, which provide enough energy to power the street lights in in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy.
The one-kilometre “Watt-way” covered with 2,800 square metres (30,000 square feet) of resin-coated solar panels was hooked up to the local power grid as Environment Minister Segolene Royal looked on.
While the output of 30,000 square feet of solar panels may not sound much, especially with a huge price tag of $ 5.2 million, the idea and ingenuity behind this move to utilize existing infrastructure is certainly appreciable. The purpose-built panels are specifically engineered to withstand the weight of passing big rigs. Additionally, if the road performs as expected, the French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal has expressed interest to see solar panels installed across 1,000 kilometres of French highway.
However, there are numerous issues. The use of flat solar panels, as opposed to conventional solar panels, offers less energy output and are more expensive. Colas, the company that installed this road, hopes to reduce the cost of these panels; stating that it has around 100 solar panel road projects in progress around the world.
Sceptics, however, are waiting to see whether or not, the panels can sustain the prolonged wear and tear from passing traffic, time and weather.