Could you imagine of a road that produces solar energy? French company Wattway has realized it in a great way. Indeed, French government and some other countries tested Wattway solar panels on their roads. And, of course, they had a good experience with the idea, reports say. Certainly innovative ideas in harvesting renewable off-grid power are creating headlines. Below we check out how Wattway solar panels work.

Recently, we came across a story on The Guardian about French government’s testing of Wattway solar panels on one of if its rural roads. As a purpose to test effectiveness of the concept, the government paved a stretch of 1km (0.6-mile) with 2,800 sq m of the electricity-producing panels. Well, government expects to generate power required to light up street lamps of the village of 3500 residents.

Wattway solar is a patented French technology. It was the outcome of 5-year research by a team of engineers at Colas, a transport infrastructure firm and French National Institute of Solar Energy (INES). In fact, it is a process of blending road construction and photovoltaic techniques to realize a type of surface that guarantees tire grip. We have more details about Wattway solar panels below. Stay tuned with us after the image break.

Wattway Solar Panels – All you Need to Know

Wattway Solar PanelsImage: The Guardian

Specs wise, Wattway solar panels work the same way regular PV panels do. The difference is you get them with resin coating that contains fine sheets of silicon. Of course, as you see, that makes the panels rough for tough traffic including HGVs. Plus, they are composed of cells inserted in superimposed layers guaranteeing tire grip.

Moreover, composite material of the road-friendly panels is just millimeters thick. It ensures thermal dilation of the stuff on the road, thus offering durability and stability. More amazingly you can fix the panels without ripping out current surface. Why the road? Well, Wattway says vehicles occupy road only by some 10% of time. Hence, it is a cool option to pick road as the surface for the panels. Moreover, road always gets bright sunlight.

Wattway solar Panel Cell

By the way, coming to its performance, Wattway solar panels on an area of 20 m² can produce enough energy to power a home. One key shortfall, noted by critics, however is that the panels laid flat on a surface are not cost-effective as compared to sloping roof panels. Anyway, below let us check out how Wattway solar panels work on the roads where they are already paved.

Wattway Solar Panels for Roads

Wattway Solar Panels in France Village

As mentioned above, French government has paved Wattway solar panels for a two-year test in a Normandy village. Well, it has used a 1km stretch in Tourouvre-au-Perche village by spending an amount of €5m (£4.2m). It is a road that around 2000 motorists use a day. The solar-paved area covers 2,800 sq m, which according to the authority is a test to check if it can power up street lights of the entire village.

French ecology minister, Ségolène Royal opened the solar road recently as you can see in the below pic. While talking on the occasion, Royal said that she wanted to see solar panels installed on one in every 1,000km of roads in France. However, critics have raised concerns over the cost effectiveness of the technology. Hopefully, the authority would also look into its cost, lifespan and other details with this test installation.

Wattway Solar Panels French MinisterImage: The Guardian

Wattway Solar Panels Calgary

As per reports, Wattway looks to test its road solar technology on the roads of Calgary, Canada’s brightest city. The company officials reportedly had meeting with Calgary officials regarding this. However, there is no info about final decision. By the way, cost of the installation is likely quoted at between $2,848 and $3,561 per square meter. We are not anyways sure when the innovative solar panels would come to North America.

Wattway solar Panels under HGV

Final Thoughts

Roadway solar panel is certainly an innovative idea. Hopefully, innovations like Wattway solar panels are likely to change the way we have been relying on solar power. No doubt, we are going through very tough time when it comes to energy availability. By the next 20 years, the world will be facing huge energy shortage, due to the depleting sources of traditional sources. It is here we must develop more reliable alternative energy sources. This move from Wattway is indeed appreciable because only such projects can now help us reduce our huge reliance on the depleting sources of energy.