The future is (almost) now
France now has its very first solar road, but by the sounds of things, it might not be all it was chalked up to be. The road was opened yesterday in the village of Tourouvre-au-Perche by French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal, and it consists of 30,000 square feet of solar panels, stretching the length of a kilometer. The road generates enough energy to power ... well, streetlights.
"That might not sound very impressive," The Verge writes, and "it kind of isn't, especially for its $5.2 million price tag." Flat solar panels simply don't work as well as angled ones, like you the ones you find on roofs. In fact, "each kilowatt-peak — the unit of measure for solar energy — generated by Wattway currently costs 17 euros, compared with 1.30 euros for a major rooftop installation," Phys.org explains.
Royal, though, is optimistic about Wattway, writing in a statement: "This new use of solar energy takes advantage of large swathes of road infrastructure already in use ... to produce electricity without taking up new real estate." The company that installed the road has 100 other similar projects in progress.