none

SOLAR PANELS ON THE ROAD?

03-02-2016
by 
in 

The French government has announced plans to pave the 1000km of road with photovoltaic panels over the next five years.

The goal of the new project is to supply 5 million people with renewable energy, which is approximately 8% of France’s population.

With a lot of debate around the safety and cost efficiency of solar roads, the French government has taken it upon themselves to invest the development.

With similar projects in the US and Netherlands the project is nothing new, but it will be the first time that solar panels will be installed onto public roads, and the design called Wattway, can be fitted onto existing roads without replacing any existing infrastructure.

"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 reported to be weather proof, as the silicon cells are encapsulated to ensure that they stay dry and are not subject to wear or tear, all the while being thin enough so that it can adapt to thermal dilation in the existing pavement.

"The panels have even passed the snow plow 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 research and assumption, the roads are covered by vehicles about 10% of the day, and the rest of the time are exposed to the sun, thus making it a perfect spot to harness the solar energy.  The company estimates that 20 square metres will be able to power a home, excluding heat.

At the moment there is no indication on what roads will be receiving the new pavement, and performance will be tested in the field.

"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."

Although concerns seem to be justified, time will tell how effective the project is. 

Related news & editorials

  1. 21.11.2018
    21.11.2018
    by      In
    New generation Enerpac high-tonnage cylinders are engineered to meet demand for heavy lifts in some of the remotest and harshest land and maritime environments of Australasia.
    Enerpac’s Summit Edition HTC models are available in standard capacities from 50 to 1000t and are designed to provide... Read More
  2. 20.11.2018
    20.11.2018
    by      In
    Iglidur high-performance polymer flanged bearings are lubrication- and maintenance-free, do not rust, and keep out dirt and dust, chemicals and weather. For additional safety, igus has developed flexible sealing rings, which are simply slipped onto the flange to protect the bearing and the... Read More
  3. 20.11.2018
    20.11.2018
    by      In
    Available now from Treotham, the igus plane-chain is a novel side-mounted e-chain for long travels and high speeds and cycle rates, for compact and fail-safe energy and data supply.
    The E6 series e-chain is mounted on its side in a specially designed low-friction stainless-steel guide trough,... Read More
  4. 19.11.2018
    19.11.2018
    by      In
    Dematic iQ InSights is a cloud-based asset performance management system that brings together order fulfilment and facility lifecycle management data to provide intelligent insights into warehouse logistics effectiveness.
    The software integrates facility-wide intelligence across warehouse and... Read More