We’re used to seeing solar panels on roofs, in some places anyway, but many have grand plans to embed them into roads. While there are some inefficiencies to the idea, it makes sense as we need to replace our roads. After all, if they’re just going to sit there all day soaking up sun, we should get a little use out of them. That’s why France has opened the first solar panel road.
Located in Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, the solar panels are embedded in the road with a silicon-based resin that takes the weight of cars and trucks rolling over the panels, and will power the town’s street lights. At a cost of $5.2 million, and with 33,000 panels, that may not be the most impressive solar performance, but it beats a road just sitting there otherwise.
Besides, this is something of a pilot test. The idea is that as we replace roads with solar roads, we use the electricity to power crucial roadside systems like emergency alerts and digital signs, thus taking them off the grid and allowing them to operate independently. In theory, it could even be used to draw power into the grid, thus helping to ease summertime electricity spikes and other issues, such as powering emergency electric charging stations on roads. Paired with the coming solar roof tiles, consumers might be able to meet their energy needs without going on the grid except in extreme emergencies or having to worry about finding a gas station when the tank is low.
(Via The Verge)