Wonderful Engineering

Remember The Solar Road In France? It Turned Out To Be A Total Disaster

Solar power highways have come face to face with a roadblock. About three years after the completion of the photovoltaic road in Normandy, the French 0.6-mile stretch aimed at harnessing the power of the sun was termed a failure. The project had kicked off in 2016 with France announcing that it will be paving 1,000 kilometers using photovoltaic panels that would be capable of generating 790kWh per day.

Once completed, the photovoltaic road was supposed to provide power to about 5 million homes. However, the first 0.6-mile stretch from the total planned 620 miles of the photovoltaic road, that was supposed to power up about 5,000 homes has not delivered according to expectations.

The panels used for the photovoltaic road were created by Wattway, and soon after installation, it was ascertained that these panels could not hold up when subjected to the wear and tear of highway traffic. As per Global Construction Review, ‘the 2,800 square meters of solar panels have degraded, peeled away and splintered, and 100m of them have been removed after being declared too damaged to repair.’

The report further claims that the engineers didn’t factor in the deterioration, that comes because of the thunderstorms, leaf mold, and heavy tractors and trucks that commute on the road on a regular basis. During its peak performance, this stretch of photovoltaic road was able to generate only 149,459 kWh in a year. This implies that the road is quite less efficient as opposed to the conventional tilted solar panels.

The outcome of this experiment of the photovoltaic road in France is disappointing but not really surprising. Experts have been skeptical of solar roads ever since they were announced. Other experiments concerning solar roadways have also demonstrated poor results. In China, a six-foot panel of a 0.6-mile solar highway was stolen, thus causing the government to cancel the project.

Will this be the end of solar roadways and other projects such as the photovoltaic road in France? We believe that scientists will continue to experiment until they get it right!