France unveils the world’s first solar panel road

Posted: December 22, 2016 by oldbrew in innovation, Travel

Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]

Solar panel road [image credit: Wattway]

Five million Euros to power a few street lights sounds expensive. What effect traffic has on the panels remains to be seen, but dirt could be an issue.

A solar panel road, claimed to be the world’s first, has opened in France, reports the Daily Mail Online.

The 0.6 miles (1km) stretch of road in the small Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche is paved with 2,880 solar panels, which convert energy from the sun into electricity. It is hoped that the the road could eventually provide enough energy to power the small village’s street lights.

The ‘Wattway’ road features 2,800 sq m (9,186 sq ft) of panels and was showcased today at an inauguration ceremony attended by French minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ségolène Royal.

The road is expected to produce 280 MWh of electricity a year.

While the daily production will fluctuate according to weather and seasons, it is expected to reach 767 kWh per day, with peaks up to 1,500 kWh per day in summer.

Some 2,000 motorists will use the RD5 road every day during a two-year test period.

During that time, assessments will be made as to whether the road is capable of generating enough power to run the village’s street lights. Tourouvre-au-Perchef is home to around 3,400 residents.

The project is said to have cost €5m (£4.2m/$5.1) and was financed by the French government.

Source: France unveils the world’s first solar panel road: 0.6-mile stretch could provide enough energy to power entire village’s street lights | Daily Mail Online

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘Perhaps Normandy is not the best region of France to test the effectiveness of solar panels. Figures show that the Normandy town of Caen gets 44 days of “strong sunshine” per year, compared to 170 in Marseille.’

  2. A C Osborn says:

    £4.2m to power some street lights.
    You couldn’t make it up in a sane world.
    Once the dirt, rubber, soot and oil get on them they will lose even more efficiency, so that means they are going to have to regularly wash them, at what extra cost?
    In Britain we have various street devices powered by Solar panels, after 4 days of cloudy conditions the ones near me are not working at all.

  3. “… a two-year test period. … During that time, assessments will be made as to whether the road is capable of generating enough power to run the village’s street lights. … The project is said to have cost €5m (£4.2m/$5.1) …”

    Does anybody know how much the cost is to run this village’s lights for two years has been right now? And will anybody wager how soon the first total failure will be for this stretch of road on delivering ANY electricity?

  4. A C Osborn says:

    I wonder the Grip is like on Wet Glass?

  5. Hifast says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    We’ll have to watch this and see how long it lasts.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Panels should ideally be at around a 35-45 degree angle in Northern Europe for best efficiency.

    Durability is questionable, if the amount of potholes on roads generally is any guide.

    Also they might be targeted by thieves? Maybe they could power a CCTV system as well as the street lights 😉

  7. daveburton says:

    What a great match:
    Power generation which only works during the day
    to run streetlights that are only needed at night.

    What a great investment:
    $6 million to build a system
    which generates $40,000 of electricity per year (worth less than $30,000 here in NC).
    So it would pay for itself in about 150 years
    except that the road will need repaving in ten.

  8. […] Source: France unveils the world’s first solar panel road […]

  9. Curious George says:

    To boost President Hollande’s popularity, €5m is not much.

  10. Stephen Richards says:

    Caen is near the coast, its a port town and the pays Au-Perche is well inland. However, the whole of the Finister, Bologne coast is plastered with windturbines and gets very similar weather the the SW England. This road is just another very stupid idea from the idiot that wants to shut 50% of french nuclear power and provide 7000000, power sockets at the side of roads for charging non existent electric vehicles.

  11. Stephen Richards says:

    Curious George says:
    December 22, 2016 at 9:28 pm
    To boost President Hollande’s popularity, €5m is not much.

    But to get it from 4%, the lowest ever recorded level of popularity in french history to any reasonable number 5million€ is a lot. I suspect this is about Royal, Hollandes first former girlfriend, moving up the socialist party ladder at our expense.

  12. richard verney says:

    A C Osborn says: December 22, 2016 at 6:37 pm/

    Beat me to it.

    As soon as I saw the photo I immediately thought what about accidents , Mainly in wet slippery conditions, but also low solar could create a lot of glare. What happens when the first person gets killed because of this folly?

  13. Stephen Richards says:

    Incidentally, this is creeping toward Roger’s house. He may be able to run an LED lamp when it gets there

  14. Poly says:

    peak green/climate change stupidity.

  15. BLACK PEARL says:

    Will be a great surface for the boy racers to do wheelys on

  16. nzrobin says:

    And what about other buried services using the same corridor. If there are gas pipes, power cables, sewer pipes, water pipes, or telephone cables/fibres below, any work on these would require removal and reinstatement of the panels. I can imaging this would become quite a nightmare for those other services.

  17. JohnM says:

    I look forward to the first heavy frost on this road.
    Snow might be a bit of a problem too. Come to think of it, my tyres often get small stones embedded in the tread so imagine what these would do to the glass.
    Sacre bleu!

  18. vuurklip says:

    Solar powered “cat’s eyes” have been installed locally as an experiment. They switch on when a car approaches and switch off after the car has passed. After less than a year, none of them are still working. The old traditional reflective types are still working. Just add “solar powered” or “renewable” or “sustainable” to your product description and every bureaucrat is sold.

  19. Russ Wood says:

    I have a simple water feature in my garden outside Johanneburg, South Africa. This is powered by a 12V solar panel. And at the solstice, it began to flow at about 08:30, and ended at 15:00 when the panel became shadowed. Now if a simple panel can only produce for about 3 hours either side of noon (on the South African Highveld) in midsummer, what hope do they have of getting ANYTHING useful out of a Normandy street?

  20. A C Osborn says:

    There is also another point, when there are cars using the road, it is in Shadow, so if they have heavy traffic there won’t be any generation.

  21. Ken Mitchell says:

    I don’t think dirt will be that big an issue. All they need is a mandatory tire-washing system (funded by a modest usage fee) to scrub the tires clean before any vehicle drives onto the solar-powered road. Of course, they’ll need to build an extra powerplant nearby to power the tire-washing system and to reclaim the water used in the system.

    (Does this even NEED a [SARC] tag? I’m afraid so!)

  22. oldbrew says:

    ACO: that’s true in theory but this looks like Nowheresville so probably not much traffic.

    Maybe a few messy tractors though 😉

  23. A C Osborn says:

    oldbrew says:
    December 23, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    2000 a day use it.

  24. […] Source: France unveils the world’s first solar panel road | Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  25. Stephen Richards says:

    Guys, local french roads are very very rarely busy. I live next to a road equivalent to a UK A road. For much of the day I see very little trafic. Rush hours bring a few more but nothing like the UK.

    I dont know this village but services at almost certainly not a problem. However, this exercise is absolutely nothing more than a very expensive publicity stunt.

    Farm tractors are a frequent road user. Lovely fumier spread across the panels and those V treads which pull and tear at the ground ,now that is autre chose. :)))

  26. catweazle666 says:

    Solar panels to drive streetlights?

    I could swear it isn’t April the First yet…

  27. oldbrew says:

    Maybe they forgot to install the rechargeable batteries 😉

    Or they’re waiting to see if the road panels survive the pounding of traffic before doing so.