In late December, the French Environment Minister, Ségolène Royal, formally opened the world’s first solar road in the village of Tourouvre (Normandie region). It is hoped that the technology, which uses specially developed solar panels laid flat over the road surface to generate energy, will soon be developed elsewhere in France and abroad.
An average of 2,000 motorists who use the road out of Tourouvre every day, and since December 22 they have been traveling over no fewer than 2,800 solar photovoltaic panels. Their installation received a €5 million subsidy from by the French government.
The two entities behind “Wattway”, Colas (a world-leading civil engineering firm specializing in transport construction and maintenance) and CEA Tech (an industry crossover innovation accelerator and research division of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission) expect the solar road to generate enough electricity to power street lighting for up to 5,000 residents.
Ms. Royal is enthusiastic about yet another French creative solution and innovative global breakthrough technology, announcing at a press conference that she aims to see the technology rolled out over 1,000 km (620 miles) in the next five years.