Situated alongside the Chattahoochee River and at the southwest corner of Gwinnett County in the metro Atlanta area, Peachtree Corners, Georgia is home to more than 40,000 residents…plus an innovation hub that houses some of the world’s most disruptive technology companies.
Claiming to be the United States’ premiere smart city—powered by leading edge connected infrastructure—Peachtree Corners serves as a model for how government and private industry can better collaborate to create a better future for society and business.
Now, on December 3, 2020, Peachtree Corners unveiled the city’s new solar roadway system, which produces energy for a solar-powered EV charging station located at city hall. The installation also marked the first road surface-powered solar panels to be activated in an American city.
The solar roadway is located in a section of Technology Parkway’s autonomous vehicle test lane and was provided to the city through a partnership with The Ray, a nonprofit living laboratory and proving ground located along an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 spanning between LaGrange and the Georgia/Alabama state line.
The new system at Peachtree Corners will produce more than 1,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for a Level 2 EV charger at city hall at no cost to EV motorists. The charger is also equipped with an energy storage system for nighttime charging.
The Wattway solar roadway panels, manufactured by French transportation innovator Colas Group in partnership with the French National Solar Energy Institute, were engineered to be more durable and efficient – resulting in a 21 percent performance increase over previously deployed panels.
“As further reinforcement of Peachtree Corners’ leadership in introducing and developing the latest technologies in a real-world environment, we’re excited to have been working with The Ray to install the country’s first road surface solar panels manufactured by Wattway, within our one-of-a-kind autonomous vehicle lane,” said Brandon Branham, chief technology officer and assistant city manager of Peachtree Corners.
“While this new form of 100-percent green, renewable energy will begin with supplying power to an EV charging station, our vision is to begin to power more existing infrastructure across the city, off-grid. We look forward to installing more panels throughout, which may include sidewalks, bike lanes and many more surfaces,” he added.
The Ray was a 2018 Finalist for the Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award, and was featured on The Weather Channel as one of Ten Best Ways to Save the Planet! The Ray is a proving ground for the evolving ideas and technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure of the future with the mission to build a zero carbon, zero waste, zero death highway system.
“We are thrilled to be installing a solar road for the first time in an American city,” said Harriet Anderson Langford, founder and president of The Ray.
“Our entire organization, with the help of key corporate partners, is dedicated to advancing the future of transportation infrastructure around the world. We have had lots of success using roadways, as well as unused interstate right-of-way, to generate massive amounts of electricity for EVs. Proving this technology in an environment like Peachtree Corners helps us further demonstrate its effectiveness while moving us toward implementation on a larger scale,” she continued.
It begins with the 18-mile stretch of interstate named in memory of Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), a Georgia native who became a captain of industry, and was recognized as a leader in green business when he challenged his company, Interface, Inc., to pursue zero environmental footprint.
Ray Anderson and REVITALIZATION editor Storm Cunningham worked together on various projects from time to time over a 20-year period.
Photo courtesy of Curiosity Lab.