The world’s first solar road has been opened

In France, the first kilometer of road built with photovoltaic cells was put into operation. It’s part of a government-funded experiment to turn French highways into power plants in the future.

The road was built in Normandy. 2880 photovoltaic panels covered with silicon resin were used in its construction. The solar road will be tested for two years to see exactly how much energy it can generate. Engineers say the road can withstand the heavy load of even a caróin the heavens.

The Wattway project, as it has been christened, was funded by the French Ministry of the Environment and built by an engineeróin from Colas. Current estimates indicate that the solar road will generate about 767 kilowatt hours per day. Authorities say this is enough to provide free lighting for a town of 5,000.

– Such solar energy harvesting uses the current road infrastructure, whichóra occupies huge swathes of the country – said the French Minister of Ecology, Development and Energy Ségoalène Royal.

Critics, however, believe that the cost (5 million euros) is too highócommensurate with the planned performance. According to their calculations, energy obtained from the sun’s path will be 13 times more expensive than that obtained from photovoltaic panels mounted on the roofs of housesów. That means one kilowatt hour from a solar road costs 17 euros today. Minister Rogal says that as technology improves and more land is covered with solar roads, costs will decrease.

French authorities plan to build 1,000 kilometers in the next four yearsóin such a dróg. That, however, depends on how tests of the currently commissioned one-kilometer section go. Although according to the planóin, from a 1,000-kilometer distance authorities intend to meet the energy needs for five millionóin osób. That adds up to 8 percent. of the French population.