The world’s first solar panel road has officially opened in a small village in France.
Built in Tourouvre-au-Perche, Normandy, the 1km route, known as the Wattway is covered in 2,800m2 of photovoltaic panels. It is designed to be used by up to 2,000 motorists per day, providing an average of 767 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, enough energy to power all of the street lighting for the village of 3,400 people.
To protect them from wear, the panels have been coated in a resin containing five layers of silicon.
The road’s construction is part of a push by French ecology officials to establish 1,000km of solar energy generating roads in the country within five years. Constructed at a cost of $5.2m its directors view the project as the next step in the development of the technology.
“We are still on an experimental phase. Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation,” said Wattway director Jean-Charles Broizat.
“This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panel installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimising our innovation.”