The world’s first solar panel road has officially opened in a small village in Normandy, France.
Built in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche, the 1 kilometer route, dubbed the “Wattway,” is covered in 2,800 square meters of photovoltaic panels. It is designed to be used by up to 2,000 motorists per day, while providing an average of 767 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day, enough energy to power all of the street lighting in the 3,400-resident village.
To protect from wear, the panels have been coated in a resin containing five layers of silicon.
The road’s construction is part of a push by French ecology officials to install 1,000 kilometers of solar roads throughout the country within the next 5 years. Constructed at a cost of €5 million (about $5.2 million), directors view the project not as a finished product but as the next step in the development of the technology.
“We are still on an experimental phase. Building a trial site of this scale is a real opportunity for our innovation,” said Wattway Director Jean-Charles Broizat in a statement. “This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panel installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimizing our innovation.”
The road will now begin a 2-year testing period, in which the feasibility of adapting the technology will be measured.