France to lay 1,000km of solar roadways over next 5 years

12 Feb 2016

Waddaway solar roadways image via Colas

As part of a major investment in renewable energy, the French government is to begin a project to lay 1,000km of solar roadways over the next five years.

Based on logic alone, the concept of solar roadways makes complete sense given that roads take up a significant amount of land across a country, but have only one use.

In the last few years, however, a number of engineers and researchers have toyed with the idea of creating driveable roads that also act as enormous solar panels stretching for kilometres on end, offsetting the carbon generated by the vehicles.

And now, according to the French government, the European country will be one of the first to actually go ahead with the idea on a grand scale.

8pc of France’s energy needs

According to Global Construction Review, the decision is being instigated by France’s minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal, who wants to lay 1,000km of roads embedded with photovoltaic strips.

It’s envisioned that the 7mm long strips – called Wattway cells – will be glued to the existing roadways based on technology that is already available, with each strip generating enough energy to power one household.

Despite being made from thin polycrystalline silicon, the strips would be able to withstand all road vehicles without causing them to slip.

The total estimated cost of the project is believed to be between €200m and €300m and, if successful, will be able to provide power to 5m homes, or the equivalent of 8pc of France’s entire population.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic