The nation aims to install 1000 km of PV on roads and streets within five years, with work set to begin this spring and the first solar highways to come online within six months.
According to the ministry, a 1 km stretch of PV-panelled road is expected to generate enough power to run all the streetlights in a small town. Once the entire project is completed, it should supply around 8% of France’s power.
The technology is the result of a five-year collaboration between transport infrastructure firm Colas and the Institute National de l’Energie Solaire (INES). According to Colas, installation involves simply sticking the PV panels to the road surface, without the need for civil engineering work.
The company says its Wattway road surface is composed of solar cells in superposed layers that ensure resistance and tyre grip and are just 7 mm thick, adding that the surface can adapt to thermal dilation in the pavement as well as the weight of vehicles.