My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How France is using Wattway Solar Roads to power 5 million homes

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How France is using Wattway Solar Roads to power 5 million homes

France has does it yet again as it relates to road construction.

This time, they've announced plans to build some 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of local roads with photovoltaic panels over a five year period as reported in the article “France plans to build 1,000 kilometers of energy-collecting solar roads by 2021”, published February 3, 2016 By Chloe Olewitz, Digitaltrends.

Minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal plans to raise taxes on petrol so as subsidize $220 million and $440 million of the cost of this ambition project. According to France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, this project has tremendous benefits:

1.      4 meters (just over 13 feet) of photovoltaic road could power one household’s electricity needs for everything but heating
2.      1 kilometer (about 0.6 miles) could power a village or neighborhood with 5,000 residents

The 1000 km road would provide power for 5 million people or 8% of France's population. So how does this technology work?

Wattway Solar panels - Solution to our energy problems on the road

This is very similar to Scott and Julie Brusaw's Solar Roadways idea that the US FHA (Federal Highway Administration) had funded back in May 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “The Brusaw's Solar Roadways score US$1 million on IndieGogo and US$750,000 from US FHA - Powering Roadways one Parking Lot at a Time”. 

The solar panels, which are really thick panels of polycrystalline silicone film from company called Wattway, differ in that they are to be attached to the existing roadways. So no need to install a different type of road surface. Each strip is 7 millimeters thick and the material is water proof and weatherproof and can last up to 10 year before needing replacement.

It can withstand heavy traffic and can generate electricity with an efficiency of 15%. This as below the 19% industry standard, but based on the projections above, this is clearly worth it. Even better, if this is used in parking lots and areas with less frequent traffic, it would make use of idle sunshine as well as allow the Watt away to last as long as 20 years.

Truly, the solution to our energy problems may be on the very roads that we drive on.

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