Several Countries Experimenting with Solar Powered Roads

The world is trying to figure out new and innovative ways to incorporate solar energy into existing infrastructure and this newest development has huge potential.

Countries like France and the United States are now looking into solar technology that is built into roads. France is planning to install solar photovoltaic panels on roughly 1,000 kilometers of roads (not pictured). The plan is a joint project of the government, the French National Solar Institute, and private road construction firm Colas.

Given the heavy load of vehicles on the road and harsh weather conditions, many people are asking whether this will actually work. In terms of integrity, Colas is confident that its solar panels are both sturdy and weatherproof. The panels can survive between 10 and 20 years, depending on the load magnitude and frequency.

Based on estimates by Colas, a typical house in France could be powered by about 13 feet of solar roads. The plan to install 1,000 kilometers of solar panels would be a huge benefit for the country.

While this plan may have been derailed in the past due to exorbitant costs, the price tag for solar energy equipment has dropped drastically in recent years, and is even projected to decrease in price by about 10 percent every year. As a result, more people are investing and making use of this renewable energy for homes and businesses.

The project doesn’t have a date of implementation yet, although Colas reported that it’s already undergoing the final tests in preparation for a full launch.

In related news, other countries are also into solar road testing. To date, South Africa, England, Holland, and the U.S. are actively pursuing this kind of solar panel installation.

[Photo courtesy of Lucas Pettanati on Flickr]