Solar Highways: France repurposes roads as renewable energy infrastructure

Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology and energy, has said that the government intends to pave 1,000km of road with photovoltaic panels in the next five years, supplying power to millions of people.

The maximum effect of the programme, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8% of the French population”, he said.

The minister told a conference of transport authorities last week that the tenders for the “Positive Energy” initiative had already been issued and the tests on the panels would begin in the spring.

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1 Comment

  • February 1, 2016

    roymbarrett

    On the one hand I would like to be able to say that this is good example of fostering the use of sustainable energy infrastructure, but I can’t help but feel that solar collectors on road surfaces seems to me to be a very poor option when there are so many possibilities to use at least part of the airspace – not only above the roads, or parking lanes, [admittedly subject to ‘clearance’ constraints], but rather more easily over the adjoining footpaths, and over the massive extent of public and private open car parking areas, with additional benefits of weather protection, and with all or some of the supporting stanchions for such covering having alternate or dual-purpose functions for battery power storage and ‘plug-in pay-for recharge stations’ for battery powered phones, etc, and electric cars,as well as for lighting, and stormwater drainage to rain-gardens designed to achieve water re-use quality.

    By comparison, road surface collectors are subject to continual, intermittent covering by vehicles, as well as road-grime, and would have to stand up to heavy pressures, as well as causing greater disruption than installation of a light-weight, modular, design of overhead collectors would involve. The relevant public or private entities controlling such spaces should be able to find readily available organisations to fund/lease/design/build and maintain such facilities, without cost to the community.

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