Wattway panels can be applied to road surfaces, making use of existing space to provide renewable energy

A small number of UK road surfaces could be covered in special solar panels this year as part of a worldwide trial to see if their use could be rolled out on a large scale.

Wattway solar panels are a product from construction firm Colas. They are just 7mm thick and can be placed onto any road surface, therefore generating energy without requiring any new space.

The panels use photovoltaic technology, which converts sunlight into a flow of electrons. Colas says the surfaces can power road infrastructure such as message signs and road lighting, and there's also potential for surplus energy to be supplied to the National Grid.

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Car tyres' grip on the panels should be comparable to grip on normal road surfaces, because the Wattway panels are covered in a glass bead resin coating that boosts friction levels.

Carl Fergusson, Colas's executive director strategy and development, said: “Without doubt this is an extremely exciting time for the industry and we are looking for a number of forward-thinking clients who are interested in running Wattway trials with us.

"The UK trials will form part of about 100 trials taking place worldwide."

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Trails have already begun in France, and once they begin in the UK, data can be collected and collated with other global trial sites to help improve the technology.

Colas’ Campus for Science and Technology (CST), located near Paris, will use this data to create an optimised final product. The company hopes to launch a finished product in 2018, meaning solar panel roads could be rolled out on a major scale in around two years at the earliest.

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Comments
7

PJE

15 July 2016
Roof top mounted solar panels are a lot more cost effective, and will always be the case as any improvements to in-road panels can be used on rooftop units.

You'd be better focusing on panels running down the middle of motorways which can act as a visual barrier for headlights from oncoming traffic and can be more easily maintained.

Search for 'eevblog solar road' to see some videos debunking this technology.

17 July 2016
PJE wrote:

Roof top mounted solar panels are a lot more cost effective, and will always be the case as any improvements to in-road panels can be used on rooftop units.

You'd be better focusing on panels running down the middle of motorways which can act as a visual barrier for headlights from oncoming traffic and can be more easily maintained.

Search for 'eevblog solar road' to see some videos debunking this technology.

I agree that a barrier against oncoming headlights would be a better investment, but think that a less grandiose solar scheme involving the provision of motorway lights powered by their own individual panels for currently unlit sections would be worth investigation.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

15 July 2016
As many of you know I'm pro EV, wind turbines, solar panels on roofs etc but this has to be the dumbest idea since the hydrogen car. Can't wait to practice my rear wheel steering technic on the solar road once it's wet!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

15 July 2016
You'll be burning rubber, @xxxx....
Autocar wrote:

Car tyres' grip on the panels should be comparable to grip on normal road surfaces, because the Wattway panels are covered in a glass bead resin coating that boosts friction levels.

I would be more concerned about longevity of inter-panel connections and between the panels and what they are energising. The thought of more road maintenance issues for motorists....

289

15 July 2016
:) Yes I hate to think how slippery these would be in a downpour the like of which has been plaguing the UK this summer!
The drifters would love it, although they would lay a layer of rubber all over the tiles thereby stopping them from functioning.
I would have thought they would also get quite hot....should provide a test for tyre manufacturers. All season tyres would probably just melt.
Finally i guess a certain amount of sun would be required....oh dear, fell at the first hurdle!

16 July 2016
whilst this isn't a bad idea, i think it's a long way from a good one. a road's view of the sun is obstructed by buildings and vehicles, if we're going to put time, effort, and money, into making a solar farm why can't we have a proper solar farm? one where the panels can track the sun across the sky and actually work properly? why aren't we fitting similar rigs to the tops of tall buildings etc? wouldn't that be easier and give better - and more consistent - results?

16 July 2016
South Australia down under has gone solar and wind and shut down its base load power stations and b me they are rapidly running out of electricity and have the highest prices in Aus to the point Buisiness will have to lay off workers. Go nuclear or hydro and stop the looney green mob before they root the country. The sun actually shines in Aus and the wind blows in SA

Lanman

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