The practical implementation was surprisingly fast. Beginning of 2016, Ségolène Royal, French Minister of Environment, Energy and Sea, announced to build a 1,000km solar panel roadway in France over the next five years. Not even one year later, the first small section has been inaugurated in Tourouvre-au-Perche, located in northern French region Normandy. This trial site consists of 2,880 square meters of photovoltaic panels and is expected to provide 280 MWh per year.
Solar panel roadway powers street lighting
The one-kilometer long solar panel roadway, funded by the Ministry of the Environment, is owned by the French Department of Orne. The photovoltaic panels, designed by Wattway, are made of thin polycrystalline silicon sheets with an edge length of 15 cm.
It is not the most cost-effective way to provide clean electricity from renewable sources. But as flagship project, it is at least an effective opportunity to gain public awareness regarding the renewables. Complex subjects require special attention. Furthermore, it is now possible to test the technology under real conditions before transferring it to the large-scale production level. We can certainly look forward to the remaining 999 km solar panel roadway.