The French government will again try to develop a PV power-generating road with the use of a brand new type of solar panel in 2019, following its previous experiment with unsatisfactory results in 2016.
The previous PV road, which extends one kilometer in length, is situated in Tourouvre-au-Perche, a small town in Normandy in northwestern France. It is covered with 2,880 solar panels, with a construction cost reaching 5 million euros.
With the employment of the "Wattway" PV power technology of the French road engineering firm Colas, the road is covered with multi-si solar panels which are less than one centimeter thick. The solar panels are placed beneath five layers of basal plates that consist of resin and polymer to withstand the load of trucks and other large cars. The cost for the reinforced solar panels is 17 euros/KWh, which is 13 times that of the common panel models.
Despite being launched in Dec. 2016, the PV road has been able to generate only 229 MWh of energy for powering street lamps as of March 2018. This is a far cry from the original expectation of 642 MWh, according to Alain Pelleray, an official from France’s Orne province.
As of now, the total benefits generated by the PV road has also only reached a total of around 8,000 euros, which is about one third of the originally expected 22,000 euros, according the power-purchase contract of the power company EDF.
The lackluster performance of the country’s original PV road is attributed to the effects of accumulated dust, the abrasion damage of the solar panels caused by the passing vehicles, and the country’s weather conditions. In the recent years, some residents have also complained about the huge noise produced by the passing cars, which has prompted the government to set the speed limit of the road at 70 kilometers/hour.
The French government has recently decided to make another try for the project by installing a new type of solar panels on a 400-meter section of the road. The new solar panel is likely to be a mono-si one, with higher conversion rate but lower cost.