Solar Roadway in France – For Real

February 14, 2016


Watch this space.

Global Construction Review:

Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, has said that the government intends to pave 1,000km of road with photovoltaic panels in the next five years, supplying power to millions of people.

“The maximum effect of the programme, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8% of the French population”

The minister told a conference of transport authorities last week that the tenders for the “Positive Energy” initiative had already been issued and the tests on the panels would begin in the spring.

According to France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, 4m of solarised road is enough to supply one household’s electricity needs, apart from heating, and one kilometre will light a settlement with 5,000 inhabitants.

So the maximum effect of the programme, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8% of the French population.


Known for its historic cobblestone paths and traffic-jammed streets, France forgoes traditional bricks and pavement for shiny solar panels with its new roadway project.

French officials announced plans to construct a 1,000-kilometer-long (621-mile-long) solar roadway, with each kilometer capable of providing enough clean energy to power 5,000 homes.

“The maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population,” Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, said at a conference, reports Global Construction Review.

The street—or “Wattway”—is a collaboration between the National Institute of Solar Energy and French civil engineering firm Colas. Tests for the road will begin in the spring.

The entire project will take an estimated five years to complete, but builders won’t have to yank up existing roads in the meantime. The photovoltaic cells can simply be glued on top of existing streets and are durable enough to withstand heavy traffic and weather conditions.
U.S. Coal Production Falls to 30-Year Low as Solar Powers Up

Despite the bumper-to-bumper traffic Parisians associate with their daily commute, the average French roadway is packed for only 10 percent of the day, according to Colas’ figures. That will leave the solar street with the majority of the day to gather energy from the sun. The panels collect solar power through a thin layer of polycrystalline silicon and convert it into electricity. Electrical connections can be integrated into existing traffic structures such as ducts and gutters.

While that energy can then be used to power French homes, the Wattway can also power streetlamps, traffic lights, and even electric cars.

France won’t be the first country to roll out a solar road. A 70-meter solar bike path was installed in the Netherlands in 2014 and has proved successful, with the path creating enough energy to power a house for an entire year within six months of installation.

A husband-and-wife team who garnered more than $2 million in a crowdfunding campaign in 2014 hopes to turn every roadway in America into a power-producing solar street. They too are still in the testing phase.


19 Responses to “Solar Roadway in France – For Real”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    “il y a « une ventouse qui naissent chaque minute” is apparently as true in France as it is in the Netherlands and the U.S., and someone is always ready to take advantage of the suckers the minute they are born.

    This also proves the truth of “no horse is ever too dead to beat”—refer back to the “related” Crock pieces, especially the first one for the ‘beating” of the solar roadway horse that should have gotten it buried.

    Actually, I’m quite shocked that the French are buying into this in such a big way. What’s “real” is that someone is likely getting paid off big time here—watch for a scandal to erupt over this as France moves down the insane solar “road”.

  2. […] Hat tip to Climate Denial Crock of the Week. […]

  3. lorne50 Says:

    So East West or North South ? How do they make power under snow and ice will snow plowing destroy the cells ? This is like buy this snake oil all will be fine with you. ! Geeze

    • dumboldguy Says:

      It’s often hard to understand what loonie50 is saying, but I think I agree with him here. Solar Roadway = Snake Oil.

    • Um, France isn’t exactly known for being covered in snow. As an example, as I type this the lowest temperature on the Paris 7-day forecast is that it will go down to -3C Tuesday night with a high of 5C on either side and there might be some wet snow late Thursday that will quickly melt Friday morning.

      For a test like this, I would expect it to be installed somewhere in the south where snow is something that you find by taking a drive up into the Alps.

  4. Don Osborn Says:

    Solar Roads are a poor idea from so many perspectives but that they distract from the real solar revolution taking place NOW is perhaps their biggest flaw. Solar is not waiting for “someone in a garage somewhere” to invert the solution and it is not waiting to use roadways. Solar is, indeed, now and is being put to use every day in ever increasing numbers. Solar continues to improve incrementally with no need for “revolutionary breakthroughs”. As John Parnell put it so well, “the real solar revolution is much duller and much more powerful. Cheaper, cleaner, more accessible power and everything that entails.” Solar belongs on rooftops, open fields, over parking lots, and along roadways … but not “solar roadways”. This always was a scam and continues to sucker welling meaning people.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      the nice thing about this is that the French are running a trial. we can all watch and assess how it goes.
      That should inform, if not end, the debate.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        No, somebody in France is running not a “trial” but just another scam, and as long as the suckers keep taking the bait, solar roadways will continue to distract us from real solutions, as Dan Osborn recognizes. We don’t have to “watch and assess”, all we have to do is THINK right now. and the various video clips from Thunderfoot say all that needs to be said—he did the job on Solar Roadways in the U.S. and the Netherlands, and his newest just follows through with France.

        NO ONE with the slightest understanding of the science and engineering involved can think this is a good idea—-unless of course, they are motivated reasoners and bright-sided to the point of delusion. Apologies to redsky, who is on the right side on just about everything else he posts, but roads are for driving on, and solar panels are for making electricity, and anyone who thinks it makes any sense to combine them needs to reboot.

  5. Don Osborn Says:

    “A husband-and-wife team who garnered more than $2 million in a crowdfunding campaign in 2014” … That is what I am talking about.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      And before they started the crowdfunding campaign, they got a couple of government grants for nearly $2 million as well. There is a principle in economics popularly called the “checkout line”. Just as people at a store instinctively move to what they perceive as the shortest or fastest moving line to optimize their “wait time”, entrepreneurs rush to what they see as “gaps” in the economy that they can make a quick buck from.

      Unfortunately, those who are scammers do the same thing—jump on bandwagons, sling bullshit for the gullible, and ride the wave until it collapses. Mark my words, there is something dirty with this thing in France—-COLA, the contracting firm involved, is huge over there, as big as Halliburton and other “connected contractors” are over here. (I wonder if Dick Cheney is somehow involved? If he could get W to go to war for the oil companies and “business”, he surely could get France to build solar roads for COLA)

  6. There was a Dutch experiment last year with 1km (I could be very wrong on the length) of solar cycle-way. It produced almost half of the power of rooftop systems on nearby (within 1km) houses. So while it did produce power, why bureaucrats insist on putting these things on the ground rather than elevated so they get more sunshine beats the hell out of me.

    • redskylite Says:

      This article states that the Dutch 70 meters (230 feet, or over two-thirds the length of an NFL football field) cycle path has produced more electricity than expected.

      “This particular pilot project is now being hailed as a success because the solar bike path is generating more renewable electricity than anticipated. Several months into the pilot now, it’s become clear that the solar panels are notably outperforming expectations — having already generated 3,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.”

      That is electricity generated without burning fossils. Good on the Dutch, good on the French.

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    Peter? Why have the “related” links changed from the three that were originallu there? They were way more directly related to solar roadways—the three that now appear are not.

  8. redskylite Says:

    “Roads spend 90 percent of their time just looking up into the sky. When the sun shines, they are of course exposed to its rays,” Jean-Lic Gautier, manager of the Center for Expertise at the Colas Campus for Science and Techniques, said in a press release. “It’s an ideal surface area for energy applications.”

    Personally I think it is a great idea. The Wattway has been 5 years in development and has passed testing “At Chambéry and Grenoble, was tested successfully on Wattway a cycle of 1 million vehicles, or 20 years of normal traffic a road, and the surface does not move.” The project has passed snowplough and rainproof tests and will supply electricity to millions of people. What an Earth is there to criticize ?, at least someone, somewhere is attempting to address the energy problem, by using low carbon means.

    Colas is a very experienced road-building outfit and I’m sure they will develop a sound and timely implementation plan, and roll-out efficiently.

    Mainly the good news is that it is going ahead, unlike some other multi million grandiose schemes, and we should be thankful for the reduced GHG’s.

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