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French Government Opens World’s First Solar Panel Road

The French government wants to build 1000km of solar roads in the next five years. Elon Musk wants to build solar roofs, entire islands are now powered by solar energy and a village in France can now claim to be home to the world’s first solar panel road.

Check also: Uganda Among The First African Countries To Build A Successful Commercial Solar Powered Cars

A 1km (0.6 mile) route in Touruvre-au-Perche, Normandy, is now covered with 2,800 sq m of solar panels. The road cost €5 million (£4.2m) to construct and will undergo a two-year test period to see if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the small village.

The new high-tech road was inaugurated on Thursday by France’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal. Royal, alongside the French government, made the decision in March this year to build over 1,000 km (621 miles) of ‘solar roads’ within the next five years.

The project was financed by the French state

It has been criticised as an ineffective use of public money, particularly because solar panels laid on flat surfaces have been found to be less efficient than panels installed on sloping areas, such as roofs.

Though this may be the first solar panel road, the first solar-powered cycle path opened in 2014 in the Netherlands. After being faced with initial problems, once the path had been open for six months it had generated 3,000 kWh of energy, enough to power an average family home for a year. However, the cost of building the cycle path, around $3.7m (£3m), could have paid for 520,000 kWh according to Triple Pundit.

The road is an interesting concept and shows a move by the French government to support renewable energy sources, however there are issues. Normandy is not known for being particularly sunny; the region’s political capital Caen has just 44 days of strong sunshine a year.

The residents of the island of Ta’u, in American Samoa, for example, are powered entirely by a microgrid made up of 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity from Solar City, and six-megawatt hours of battery storage from 60 Tesla powerpacks. The position off the island off the West Coast of America means it is in a prime location to harness the Sun’s energy.

Source: Wired

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