The World's First Solar-Powered Road Just Became a Reality


Today, a small village in Normandy, France unveiled the world’s first solar roadway, which spans 1 kilometer and aims to power street lights.

French Ecology Minister SĂ©golène Royal formally opened the road on Wednesday afternoon in the town of Tourouvre-au-Perche. Although impressive, the world’s first solar road can hardly be called a thoroughfare: It runs just 30,000 square feet and cost $5.2 million to build over a five year period. 

According to The Verge, the road isn’t without its share of problems. Structurally, there are issues, as the panels are laid flat on the ground and don’t generate the power typical of angled panels, which are traditionally laid on rooftops. Flat panels are also quite expensive -- as evidenced by the $5.2 million price tag -- meaning that solar roadways probably won't be teeming across Europe in the coming years.

Still there are things to be proud of, such as the technology employed to make the panels durable. Colas, the company that made the solar panels, constructed them with a silicon-based resin which enables them to withstand the wear and tear of a busy roadway.

The goal for Colas, Engadget reports, is to lower the cost of flat panels, making it possible to install another 1,000 kilometers of solar road wherever there is sun and enough space. 

In a similar event yesterday, it was announced that Las Vegas is the largest city in America to run completely on renewable energy, which is a big coup for Sin City, to be sure. 

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.