Dec 9, 2016 by

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Solar-generating roadways could soon be a reality on roads everywhere, thanks to new technology from Europe. According to Bloomberg, Colas SA, a subsidiary of France’s Bouygues Group has been working on solar panels that are tough enough to handle the load of an 18-wheeler truck – and are currently building them into some French road surfaces, with plans to test the technology across four continents in 2017.

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How does a road made of solar panels withstand the weight of a massive semi truck, you might ask? According to Bloomberg, while the panels are made with ordinary solar cells such as those that might be on your roof, they are layered with several types of plastic on top to create a sturdy casing that can withstand abuse. It has electrical wiring embedded, and is coated with a layer of crushed glass to create an anti-slip surface.

Related: Solar Roadways unveils super strong solar panels for roads in a prototypical parking lot

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Wattaway began testing the new product last month on a kilometer-long site in the French town of Tourouvre. At 2,800 square meters in area, the embedded solar panel array is expected to generate about 280 kilowatts of energy at peak capacity. The company says that’s enough power to provide public lighting for a town of up to 5,000 people for a whole year. They also told Bloomberg they intend to test the technology in Calgary, Canada, Georgia, USA, throughout the European Union, Africa and Asia, with plans to commercialize in 2018.

Add this innovation to Tesla’s solar roof and what Solar Roadways is doing in the U.S., and it’s been a good year for unconventional applications of solar power.

Via Bloomberg

Images via Wattaway

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Solar Roadways are coming to historic Route 66

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Solar Roadways are finally gaining traction in the United States. Scott and Julie Brusaw have been developing their energy-generating roads for the last several years, hoping to replace asphalt with solar panels that can withstand the weight of cars. Now they are bringing their dream to a section of the historic Route 66 highway in Missouri.

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Solar Roadways will be installed on Route 66 as part of Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative, which focuses on improvements like smart highways and incorporating renewable energy.

Tom Blair, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) engineer who heads Road to Tomorrow said, “It gets Missouri and MoDOT prepared for 21st century innovations. We expect them to be in place, I’m hoping, by the end of this year, maybe before snow flies. If [Solar Roadway’s] version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves.”

Related: Glow-in-the-dark cement could illuminate dark highways without electricity

Solar Roadways, based in Idaho, designs energy-generating roads made of modular solar panels covered in tempered glass. Inside the modules are microprocessors that communicate with other panels, a control center, and even with cars driving on the road. LED lights in the panels provide street lines and signs, and there are even heating elements so snow and ice don’t build up on the solar panels. Plus, because the units are modular, if one breaks, it’s easier to replace it stopping so much traffic.

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Solar Roadways was first funded through a research contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation. An Indiegogo campaign garnered an additional $2 million. The idea is so popular, President Obama mentioned the project during his 2015 State of the Union address.

It looks like there’s a bright future for the startup. Soon these smart solar panels could line more than just roads. Solar Roadways envisions their modules on surfaces from playgrounds to basketball courts and airport runways.

+ Solar Roadways

Via CleanTechnica

Images via Solar Roadways on Facebook and Pixabay

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