Solar Roads were designed to withstand the elements as well as the weight of an 18-wheeler truck.
By next year, textured roads that can transmit the sun’s energy onto power grids may be coming to a city near you. Bloomberg reports that Colas SA, a subsidiary of France’s Bouygues Group, designed solar panels that can be installed into road surfaces. Not only are they somewhat aesthetically pleasing, they can withstand the weight of an 18-wheeler truck. At present, the rugged solar panels are being built into some French road surfaces. And, the designers intend to test the technology across four continents within the year.
It’s taken five years of research and laboratory tests to develop the textured solar roads. Still, more planning and testing is required. In 2017, the company intends to test them further by building 100 outdoor test sites around the world.
Said Philippe Harelle, the chief technology officer at Colas SA’s Wattway unit:
“We wanted to find a second life for a road. Solar farms use land that could otherwise be for agriculture, while the roads are free.”
As Google recently attested to, renewable technologies are becoming more and more affordable. It’s because of this that individuals and businesses are investing in solar and wind technology. Tesla Motors Inc., for example, unveiled roof shingles that double as solar panels last month.
How do the rugged panels resist the weight of heavy vehicles? Reportedly, several types of plastic are layered in the panels to create a clear and durable casing. Underneath is an ordinary model, similar to panels on rooftops. The electrical wiring is protected because it is embedded in the road. Finally, the innovation is coated with a layer of crushed glass to create an anti-slip surface.
On a 2,800 square-meter area, the solar panel array is expected to generate about 280 kilowatts of energy at peak capacity. Wattaway says that’s enough power to provide public lighting for a town of up to 5,000 people for an entire year.
Next year, the textured Solar Roadways are likely to be tested in Calgary, Canada, Georgia, USA, in multiple areas of the European Union, in Africa, and in Asia. If all goes will, the product will be ready to commercialize in 2018.
There is some concern the panels will not be able to withstand a snow plow, but testing will confirm this once and for all in 2017. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!