France Is Set To Install 1,000 km Of Solar-Panelled Roads In The Next 5 Years… – Eco Snippets

France Is Set To Install 1,000 km Of Solar-Panelled Roads In The Next 5 Years…

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France Is Set To Install 1,000 km Of Solar-Panelled Roads In The Next 5 Years...

France’s government has announced plans to pave 1,000 km (621 miles) of road with durable photovoltaic panels over the next five years, with the goal of supplying renewable energy to 5 million people – around 8 percent of France’s population.

The project is the result of five years of research between French road construction company, Colas, and the National Institute of Solar Energy. And although a lot of solar experts have been pretty vocal about the downfalls of ‘solar freaking roadways’ (they’re expensive, potentially unsafe, and inefficient compared to regular rooftop panels), it’s pretty incredible to see a government get behind new renewable energy technology in such a big way.

The French definitely aren’t the first to embrace solar roads, though. Back in 2014, a US husband-and-wife team raised more than US$2million with their crowd-funding campaign to develop road-ready photovoltaic panels. And the Netherlands installed the first test-path using solar panels, which performed better than expected with light bike traffic.

But this will be the first time solar panels will be installed onto public roads, and the patented panel design, known as Wattway, is unique in that it can applied on top of existing roads, without having to rip up or reinstall any infrastructure.

Another benefit comes in the construction of the 15-cm photovoltaic panels, which are made of a thin film of polycrystalline silicon, coated in a resin substrate to make them stronger. The whole thing is just 7 mm thick. According to Colas, this unique, layered structure gives the panels a lot more grip than other solar road panels, and can reduce the risk of accidents for trucks and cars.

France Is Set To Install 1,000 km Of Solar-Panelled Roads In The Next 5 Years…

“There is no need to rebuild infrastructure,” Colas CEO Hervé Le Bouc told magazine Les Echoes last year, when the panels were unveiled. “At Chambéry and Grenoble, was tested successfully on Wattway a cycle of 1 million vehicles, or 20 years of normal traffic a road, and the surface does not move.”

The panels are apparently also weather-proof – the silicon cells are safely encapsulated to keep them dry in the rain, and the material is so thin that it can adapt to thermal dilation in the pavement.

“The panels have even passed the snowplow test with flying colours,” the Wattway site explains. “Operators do, however, need to operate the machines with a bit more care on Wattway panels than on conventional pavement.”

Based on the assumption that roads are only covered by vehicles roughly 10 percent of the time – and during the rest of the sunny hours they’ll be soaking up rays – the company estimates that 20 square metres of Wattway panels will provide enough electricity to power a single French home, excluding heating.

The plan to cover 1,000 km of existing road with these panels was announced this week at a press conference by Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development, and energy, as reported by Global Construction Review. There’s no news yet as to which roads will be the first to receive the solar panels, and we’ll have to wait and see how well they’ll perform out in the field.

But there are still a lot of concerns that solar road concepts in general are never going to be cost effective, efficient, and safe enough to be a real contender in the renewable energy game – especially when stacked up against regular rooftop panels.

“Where solar is cost effective, it is: well set up (orientation, shading, ventilation, and so on), not required to be a structural element (hence a standard module is sufficient), not displacing economic assets, and there is an electricity demand it can directly supplement,” wrote photovoltaic researcher Andrew Thomson for The Conversation last year.

“These conditions are often well met by rooftop solar systems and small scale solar farms, they are not well met by most roadways,” he added. “For solar roadways to be effective, it needs a complete technological rethink. A solution may exist, but it probably isn’t solar electric.”

Those concerns are definitely justified, but we’re still excited to see how this new project goes. Yes, it would be nice to see regular ass-kicking solar panels get as much hype as these road coverings. But any focus on installing renewable energy is a win in our books, and every experiment with new technology will only take us closer to finding out what will work.

If you like this idea, be sure to share it with your friends and inspire someone you know. Anything becomes possible with just a little inspiration…

Via ScienceAlert

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Leave a Comment:

(51) comments

That’s what we should be doing.

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We have not been with it for years…image the employment,energy,funds for our government issues and cleaner haha less power bills

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They will get stolen here but its a great idea

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Suerb, then all we need is to induct some of that power into electric cars and trucks as they drive along- ditching fossil fuelsand eliminating (or reducing ) need to re-charge.

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This is what is called progess.

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I’m not sure roads are a very good place to put solar panels. Solar panels are rather delicate so I suspect they will get damaged easily by having heavy trucks rolling over them. Also solar panels benefit from being kept clean and roads tend to be dirty. And solar panels benefit from being angled towards the sun which they can’t be if they are flat on the road. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the solar panels beside the road, on the north side of the road, about the height of road signs, angled towards the sun?

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    I’m sure the research has been done and the engineering accounted for to make this happen. Why would France invest the resources to put it in place if it were only going to last for the short term? Have faith that they know what they’re doing 🙂

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    Your faith in government is touching Annie but governments often spend money on public projects because it benefits certain people in government and those that support those members of the government. It is everyone’s responsibility to be skeptical of government spending to ensure tax money is spent in the most wise way.

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    Carl Gable Watts Your condescension is touching, too. Believe me, I am the greatest skeptic of government-anything. Please don’t make assumptions.

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    I read about the current state of development on the SolarRoadWays website. They have just begun serious testing of the product idea. I still think it would work much better to have the solar panels on the side of the road.

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Amber Churchwell

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Love it. Wonder when the Americans are going to decide that oil is a dinosaur that is not worth feeding anymore

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    Not until they have control of the alternatives

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Wish America would do this

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    As long as the big oil companies control our government well never have this

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    We do have a company working on this – Solar Roadways

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It’s a start!

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A good idea. I hope it works.

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TAKE NOTE, MEMBERS OF THE UK GOVERNMENT. ABUT TIME YOU FOCUSSED ON DOING SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE FOR THE COUNTRY INSTEAD OF PUTTING PUBLIC MONEY INTO REFURBISHING PALACES – AND IF PRIVATISATION IS SUCH A POWERFUL COMMERCIAL PROPOSITION, WHY IS THE PROVISION OF PALACES NOT PRIVATISED ANYWAY? THERE WOULD BE A GOOD CASH INPUT INSTEAD OF WASTE OF PUBLIC CAPITAL!

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is one and a half year old article, realised it because now other minister of energy and ecology (M. Hulot). France has other government, Not that thisone will not work in favor of green energy, but might be other projects than this one

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Trying to keep the islamic barbarians from blowing up what they already have, would be job one, right now.

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What is with the hard on people get with “solar freaking roadways”. Whats wrong with car parks, rooftops, out in the middle of nowhere where you can angle and have them track the sun properly.

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With so many solar projects, will we do once we soak up the sun? …Odd and even rationing? 😀

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At least it’s a start exploring and trialing new options.

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Are they going to be were every can buy them

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Menos mal que los colombianos no necesitamos usar enrgía solar activa, tenemos energía producida por hidroeléctricas, mas barata y mucho menos contaminante.

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I believe a portion of Route 66 is working in installing these. Anyone drive it recently?

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The U.S. is glaringly behind. We are bound and gagged to coal and oil by the billionaires who buy our Congressmen. It makes us look stupid, when these countries are blowing us away with their intelligence. They realize clean, renewable energy is the best way to save the earth and create jobs.

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    I thing stopping you from putting solar panels on your house or garage roof . Solar roads are pointless

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    I have solar power. I have studied it for 20 years. Solar roads would eliminate the need for coal snd oil. The U.S. has got to educate themselves. Our people are woefully ignorant.

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    Solar is just as competitive as grid power but it requires maintenance that most people won’t understand or have the ability to do. It needs to be cheaper, batteries need to last longer.

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    Agreed, Dale Vorenkamp. Also, remember, there was a time no one knew how to mine coal, or work on a plaform out in the ocean. I think I’d rather learn a solar job.

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    Lol i dont think you understamd the stresses and maintenance involved with roadways…. Or the inherent needs for roadways that will destroy the efficiency of the panels

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    nope, you have no clue what you are talking about when it comes to using panels on roadways. I live in NY… the FIRST time a snow plow goes out? Kiss MILLIONS of dollars goodbye. Have you ever even looked closely at roadway surfaces? They are absolutely destroyed by vehicles… solar roads would NOT eliminate the need for coal and oil. lmfao.

    Solar on your roof? Sure… road? NOPE!

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    They are designed to withstand all of those stresses

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    The first demonstration one in the US stopped working properly straight away, and then caught fire within two weeks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P90Y71ThfQs Even if they did work properly, they’re not aligned with the sun, use much more material than a standard or thin-film panel, would get covered with road dirt, would be hell to maintain, and make zero power at night and not much in winter.

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Solar freaking highways!!

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good for them someone knows a thing or two

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Great plan how about north east states that get a winter pounding from heavy trucks and snow plows, U.S. roads aren’t as thick as in the U.K.

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    you wouldn’t need plows with solar roads- that’s the point. the solar energy is used to melt the snow and ice.

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    Doesn’t work at night, if any stored power is left after melting a foot of heavy packed snow, Sunlight won’t get through snow and ice.

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I wish this country was investing more in solar and energy effeciency, we might get left in the dark someday

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Alice Marsden Keir Marsden

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I like where france is heading.. is it all the doing of the new young president ?

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Ah good so we can all see just how nonfeasible these really are

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the chinese road they built got pannels stolen off it almost immeidately.

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there government needs to do some more research into this, the chinese road was found to be unstable and undrivable after just a week of use. Solar roadways has been debunked as a useless fraud. Well done france, i hope your taxpayers like spending money on something useless.

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