Technology

The World's First Solar Road Costs $5.2 Million And Isn't Even A Mile Long

Wattway may be the road of the future, but right now it's looking like a lot of money to make a little power.

The Guardian reports that France is the proud owner of the world’s first solar road. The 1 kilometer stretch of road (0.6 miles) was unveiled December 22nd by French ecology minister Segolene Royal. The road is in the small town of Tourouvre-au-Perche (northwest-ish France), which has around 3,300 residents. About 2,000 cars are expected to drive on the photovoltaic solar panels per day. The stretch of solar road is not a permanent fixture, at least not yet. A two-year trial aims to measure the solar panels strength and power-generating ability.

The goal is to use the solar energy gathered by the road to power the village’s street lights. While the project sounds great on paper there is one big problem: the cost. Just this 1 kilometer stretch of road is priced at $5.18 million. That’s a ton of cash for a project whose benefits are unknown. Royal wants to extend Wattway, the name given to the solar road by the French company behind it, Colas, across the country. At its current cost that doesn’t seem possible, but as time goes down Wattway should be cheaper to produce, install and maintain. If this trial proves successful it could pave the way for a wider roll out. Parisians are constantly complaining about cars. Maybe The City of Lights should be the next test area?

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