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By Sarah Ward
December 24, 2016
By Sarah Ward
December 24, 2016

Solar power. Who needs it? Well, we do — and pretty desperately. To generate it though, we need those pesky black solar panels to be fitted to people's roofs and properties and anywhere we can find a space for them. This can be a little hard without overtaking natural environments and farmland. But France have found thousands of kilometres of space perfect for solar panels: their roads.

After researching and testing the idea in carparks over the past year, the country has unveiled its first solar-powered road — and the world's. Stretching over a one kilometre expanse in Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, the trial site features 2,880 panels and will be used by 2,000 motorists a day, generating 280 megawatts of energy per year. Ideally, that'll be enough to keep the town's street lights glowing during the two-year test run.

The road is made from a silicon-coated surface called the Wattway system, which is comprised of 7mm photovoltaic panels stuck on top of existing road surfaces. Both its thinness and ease of application to existing roads make it the best option of its type, with the idea of paving roads with solar panels first floated by Scott and Julie Brusaw via a crowdfunding campaign to pave American parking lots with the things in 2014. The French project is a collaboration between transport infrastructure company Colas and France's National Institute for Solar Energy, as sanctioned by France's Agency of Environment and Energy Management. If the Normandy installation goes to plan, they're hoping to bring solar power to 1000-kilometres of roads in the country over the next five years.

They're also promising to try out the idea around the world, with other trials planned inNorth America, Europe, Africa, and Japan. Here's hoping they're all successful, and that the project makes its way over here. As anyone who's stood barefoot on asphalt on a hot day knows, that stuff stores a lethal amount of heat.

Via: Mental Floss. Image: COLAS – Joachim Bertrand.

By Lauren Vadnjal and Sarah Ward.

Published on December 24, 2016 by Sarah Ward


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