The French government recently announced a plan to outfit 621 miles of road with solar panels in the next five years. After completion, the road will become the first photovoltaic road surface in the entire world, and will be able to provide energy formillions of people in the country.

“The maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population,” Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, told the Global Construction Review.

image via Wattway
image via Wattway

The solar road project, “Wattway”, is a result of five years of research led by French road construction company Colas and the French National Institute for Solar Energy. First introduced in October 2015, the technology consists of ultra-thin (7 millimeters or less than 0.4 inches) yet durable panels of polycrystalline silicon that convert solar energy into electricity.

Wattway produces electrical energy without overtaking farmland or natural landscapes, and contributes to increasing the share of photovoltaic electricity in the energy mix, both in France and worldwide.

Wattway will be able to power to street lights, illuminated signs, tramways, housing, and office venues in huge volumes. A 215-square-foott Wattway panel, for example, is able to accommodate a single home without heating. And a 3,200-foottlong section of Wattway panels are able to power the street lights for a town of around 5,000 inhabitants.

Head over to EcoWatch for more details of this project.

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