In an attempt to prove that roads can be made out of solar cells, the first such commercial road has opened in Tourouvre au Perche in France. The length of this drivable solar collection point is very small; just one kilometer, or 0.6 miles, and it also only covers one lane of this two-lane highway.
The company behind this new way to use solar power is Colas, who is developing the technology under the name Wattway. Each solar panel is just a few millimeters thick, which makes it easy to put on top of an existing road. Unfortunately, this first installation was also extremely expensive to install, at a cost of €5 million (about $5.2 million).
This first solar road will now be tested and evaluated for two years to see if can generate a solid amount of energy while also getting pounded by cars and other vehicles every day. While the ability to place solar cells on the road certainly has potential, the current installation costs may make this kind of project out of the reach of most towns and cities. Last week, Wattway announced it would begin placing solar cells on a road in the US, specifically on an 18 mile section of 1-85 in Georgia.