France starts building first solar-paved road

France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal yesterday launched construction of the country’s first road paved with photovoltaic panels, claiming the 1-km stretch could light a town of 5,000 people.

The experimental road will be laid at Tourouvre-au-Perche, in the Orne region of northwestern France.

Specially designed rugged panels developed by French road construction group Colas will be installed on a 1-km stretch of Orne’s departmental route number 5. Vehicles of all types can drive over them, Royal’s ministry said.

With a width of 2m, the road is expected to generate 17,963 kwh per day, enough to light a town of 5000 inhabitants.

France plans eventually to pave 1,000km of roads with solar panels.

In July Royal inaugurated the factory that will produce the Wattway solar paving panels.

The contract to fabricate the road tiles was won by Société Nouvelle Areacem (SNA), a maker of DVDs and photovoltaic panels.

The design for the product was invented by Colas and the National Institute of Solar Energy after a five-year research project.

Image: French environment minister Ségolène Royal launching construction of the country’s first road paved with photovoltaic panels on 24 October 2016 (Arnaud Bouissou/MEEM)

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  1. This is really interesting. Another value prop of solar roads, especially in more rural or suburban areas is that you should also be able to generate enough heat in winter to de-ice the roads and/or melt snow – which would save a lot of cost.

    The main concern I have beyond the normal wear and tear is how they will cope with the dirt and oil and such that goes on roads. If they are long DC strings, even one panel being “dirty” will dramatically impact the output.

    Rooftop solar doesn’t suffer as much from this, because it rains. However, savvy owners keep their panels clean.

  2. Congratulations, and it is nice to see this being done somewhere. I would like to know how it will test out and if there would be any issues during the initial installation and also after a certain amount of time afterwards.

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