In 2016, Colas Company built the 1.6-kilometre Wattway road in Normandy, France. It featured unique solar panel coating which powered the roadside lamps. But the unique road stretch is now up for demolition.
Wattway turned out to be a challenging project, as the workers had to cover 3 thousand square meters of the road with solar panels. With about $5.2 million spent on the project, the final result elicited a lot of praise from ordinary people and even the highest public officials. Why was the decision taken to have the facility demolished?
A number of mistakes were made during the Wattway construction. The actual amount of expensive electricity generated turned out to be several times lower than expected: the designers had not factored in the region’s weather conditions, famous for a large number of cloudy days.
The second mistake was the imperfect surface. The solar road could perform well with ordinary cars, but the project’s authors had overlooked the fact that the surface deforms the most under buses and trucks. As a result, Wattway got covered with cracks.
Fallen leaves and garbage, which prevent the passage of sunlight, also played their role. So, with power generation nearly at zero, it was decided to roll back the project. However, there is no need to put the entire concept of solar roads in cold storage: it would be a good idea to first see how similar projects will fare in other places.
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