France's Ecology Minister Segolene Royal this week officially inaugurated a 1-km pilot solar road project in Tourouvre, in northwestern France.
Construction began in October on the $5.22 million investment, which was financed by the Ministry.
In total, 30,139 sq ft of Wattway solar road tiles were laid down. Their annual electricity generation is estimated at 280,000 kWh (roughly 800 kWh per day) or the equivalent to providing public lighting for a town of 5,000 residents.
According to a presentation on France’s TF1 television station, the technology could provide power to light up electronic road signs, power traffic lights or even power the batteries of electric cars as they move on the road. If stored, the produced energy could power road lights at night and melt snowfall during winter.
Still, the technology is too new to make feasible conclusions. With an efficiency of 100 kWh per sq m, the solar road tiles are underperforming in power generation compared with rooftop solar installations whose average performance in the country is about 137 kWh per sq m. There also is a cost gulf, as the solar road tiles were initially priced at EUR 6/W while rooftop solar installations currently cost about EUR 1.3/W.
Image source: Seenews