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NewsFrance's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure

16:45  17 august  2019
16:45  17 august  2019 Source:   cnet.com

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It' s SOLAR FREAKIN' ROADWAYS! TIME on Treehugger, as we have another look at the Colas Wattway solar road installed in France a few This TreeHugger has wondered why anyone would want to put solar panels in a roadway where they have to be made with materials strong enough to

The world' s first solar highway has been opened in France , in the not-very-sunny village of Tourouvre au Perche in Normandy. Wattway has been tested in car parks, but this is the first time it has been used on an active road . There will now be a two-year test period, to see if Wattway can withstand the

France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. France's Wattway was meant to be the future of clean power generation, but it ended up being an expensive nuisance for residents. Frederic Stevens/Getty Images

It seems like just a couple of years ago, people were all abuzz over the idea of turning roads into massive solar energy collectors. There were several competing ideas on how to implement the technology, and a couple of pilot projects even got built.

One of those projects was France's Wattway, built outside Tourouvre-au-Perch in Normandy in 2016, and according to a report published Friday by Popular Mechanics, even its most ardent supporters have come to consider it an abject failure.

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France may be on the verge of an environmental revolution with the country' s planned 1,000-kilometre solar panel road , the Wattway . With 1,000 kilometres planned over the next five years, "the maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish five million people with electricity, or

Three Years Later, the French Solar Road Is a Total Flop. It' s too noisy, falling apart, and The Wattway consists of 2,800 photovoltaic panels lining one kilometer (0.62 miles) on the way to the There proved to be several problems with this goal. The first was that Normandy is not historically

Where did this (admittedly) cool idea go wrong? Well, the developers of the road surface solar panels seemed to not take into account the need for roads in rural areas to be able to support farm implement traffic.

The solar roadway is constructed from panels with a special silicon resin acting as the driving surface, and while its designer, a company called Colas, claimed it would stand up to a semi-truck, tractors seem to have been enough to cause the silicon layer to flake and crack, damaging the delicate solar panels underneath.

France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure© CNET

France's Wattway was meant to be the future of clean power generation, but it ended up being an expensive nuisance for residents.

The Wattway is also loud. So loud, in fact, that the local government has been forced to limit traffic to just 70 kilometers per hour (around 43 miles per hour) to cut down on the sound. So, it seems like the Wattway is a failure at being a road, but how is it at generating solar energy?

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Discover Wattway by Colas, a solar road composed photovoltaic cells able to provide clean, renewable energy in the form of electricity. The world’ s 1st ever photovoltaic road surface Wattway is a patented French innovation that is the fruit of 5 years of research undertaken by Colas, world

The world' s first solar highway has been opened in France , in the not-very-sunny village of Tourouvre au Perche in Normandy. Wattway has been tested in car parks, but this is the first time it has been used on an active road . There will now be a two-year test period, to see if Wattway can withstand the

Miserable. According to the designers of the system, it was meant to capture 790 kilowatt-hours per day, which is the equivalent of around 10.5 Tesla Model 3s in their longest-range configuration. That sounds pretty great for a kilometer of road, right?

France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. Solar panels, even small ones like this Lifepowr unit, work best when pointed directly at the sun which illustrates one of the reasons why the Wattway failed. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Well, the designers seemed to ignore the fact that while some places in France might get lots of sun, Normandy isn't necessarily one of them. According to the PopMech article, the area that the Wattway is in averages around 44 days of strong sunlight per year.

Couple that with the fact that vehicles driving on the surface keep parts of it in the shade, and that a flat road isn't at an ideal angle for capturing solar energy and you have a recipe for a big, expensive bummer.

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In France , the world’ s first solar roadway, dubbed WattWay , opened in 2016. The one-kilometer stretch of toughened PV panels, built by European road construction giant Colas, cost €5 million (.2 million) to build, and was expected to supply 280 megawatt-hours of energy annually, or about 767

Now, France is proud to announce the world’ s first solar panel road for cars following an investment Financed by the local government, the one-kilometer road dubbed “ Wattway ” was built by Colas It remains to be seen whether the investment will prove to be a success taking into account The

How expensive? Try 5 million Euros or a little more than $5.5 million. At the end of the day, that money would have likely been much better spent on traditional roof-mounted solar panels in a place that regularly sees the sun like Nice or Cannes.

Colas didn't immediately respond to Roadshow's request for comment.

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France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure
France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure© Provided by CBS Interactive Inc.
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This was originally published on Roadshow.

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