France opens world’s first solar road

A kilometre-long stretch of solar road made up of almost 3000 photovoltaic panels has been unveiled in France.

French Minister of Environment, Energy and Sea Ségolène Royal inaugurated the first major project on the Wattway solar road on December 22 last year.

This Wattway trial site, made of 2,880 panels, is installed on the RD5 and passes through the small town of Tourouvre-au-Perche.

It’s expected to be used by approximately 2000 motorists daily during a two-year test period.

This project is part of the energy transition law which involves innovative and ambitious projects achievement.

The electricity produced by this solar road stretch will be sent to France’s electricity provider Enedis network, with an expected annual production of 280 MWh.

On average, the estimated electrical output will reach 767kWh per day, with peaks up to 1500kWh per day in summer.

An information panel installed near the solar road will indicate the immediate production, as well as the total production since the installation.

Wattway director Jean-Charles Broizat said the project was an important step in Wattway solar road development.

“We are still on an experimental phase. Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation,” Jean-Charles said.

“This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panels installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimizing our innovation.”

Colas invented the solar road in partnership with the French National Solar Energy Institute.

Wattway trials are being held around the world, as well as in France.