The world’s first solar road has been declared a failure. It follows reports of unimpressive energy output and a host of technical problems…
A Costly Failure
An ‘unprecedented’ 0.6 mile stretch of road in France paved with photovoltaic panels has been branded a failure. The French government spent the equivalent of an eye-watering £4.6 million on the project, which was expected to generate an impressive 790 kilowatt-hours per day. Unfortunately, the so-called ‘Wattway’ never came close to achieving that output and, ultimately, powering local homes. A number of straightforward technical problems have presented themselves. The first is that most solar panels are curved, meaning they can directly face the sun. The solar road, however, naturally required that they be flat. In addition, debris and leaves could entirely obscure some of the panels. The solar road wasn’t helped by the fact that it was laid down in Tourouvre au Perche, Normandy; a region that, at best, averages 40 days of strong sunlight.
‘Don’t Drive On It’
The solar road has also been plagued by a number of structural problems, too. When the project was unveiled, it was claimed the road would be able to withstand the weight of 18-wheelers. Three years later down the road (pun possibly intended) locals claim just about everything is failing. This includes faulty electrics, peeling panels and splintering resin. Another problem that presented itself almost immediately was the noise the solar road generated. Residents almost instantaneously demanded that the speed limit be reduced to 70 kmh or 43 mph.
Bizarrely, the builders of the solar road have suggested that the problem lies with the fact that motorists are…Driving on it. Marc Jedliczka, vice president of the Network for Energetic Transition said, “if they really want this to work, they should first stop cars driving on it”. Wattway’s managing director Etienne Gaudin added, “our system is not mature for inter-urban traffic”. He suggested that the technology would no longer be going to market and that the company would focus on generating power for smaller things like CCTV systems. We wonder whether the company was this frank with locals and the French government when it received millions in funding? Regardless, it would seem that this particular green initiative is going to need more work before it’s going to have any real, long-term utility. Then again, perhaps it’s not the concept and simply the execution that has failed. What do you think?
Electric Cars Aren’t Noisy Enough, According To Regulators: https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/electric-cars-noise-regulators/
Charge Points To Receive £2.5 Million Boost From The Government: https://www.autoservefleet.co.uk/latest-news/charge-points-receive-2-5-million-boost/