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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the checking-the-cost-benefit-numbers dept.

France has opened what it claims to be the world's first solar panel road in a Normandy village.

A 1km (0.6-mile) route in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche covered with 2,800 sq m of electricity-generating panels, was inaugurated on Thursday by the ecology minister, Ségolène Royal.

It cost €5m (£4.2m) to construct and will be used by about 2,000 motorists a day during a two-year test period to establish if it can generate enough energy to power street lighting in the village of 3,400 residents.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Thieves Swipe a Portion of China's Solar Road 13 comments

Solar roads have plenty of potential problems, such as damage and snow, but theft? Apparently that's a concern, too. China's Qilu Evening News reported that thieves carved out a small (5.9in by 73in) portion of an experimental road in Jinan on January 2nd, a mere five days after its December 28th debut. While it's tempting to suggest this was an accident, officials said the missing segment was "neatly cut," and didn't appear to have come loose on its own.

The segment has since been repaired. An investigation is ongoing, but there aren't any identified culprits as of this writing.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/07/thieves-take-portion-of-china-solar-road/

Previously: Solar Generating Roads
Solar Roadway not Quite so Practical
SolaRoad Cycle Path Electricity Yield Exceeds Expectations
World's First Solar Panel Road Opens in Normandy Village
Georgia Tests New Solar Road


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  • (Score: 2) by KiloByte on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:49AM

    by KiloByte (375) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:49AM (#446584)

    This doesn't sound like a cost-effective idea to me. A road receives a lot of wear and needs to be repaired/replaced often. Thus, the cost of hardened solar panels will come up again and again.

    Putting ordinary, more effective solar panels somewhere else would avoid this problem entirely. A road doesn't take so much space you can't afford losing that much land.

    --
    Ceterum censeo systemd esse delendam.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:59AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:59AM (#446585)

      Not to mention the solar panels can't generate electricity in the moments that cars are on top of it. Solar panels 20 ft away to the side of the road don't have that problem.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @08:06AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @08:06AM (#446586)

        Stop being sensible! This is a win for green ecoterrorists! A win!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:20AM (#446595)

        Incredible observations. Nobody thought of that. Have you considered donating 2 minutes of brain power to any other problems? We sure need you.

        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by anubi on Wednesday December 28 2016, @10:34AM

          by anubi (2828) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @10:34AM (#446619) Journal

          I do not believe this effort was meant to be terribly efficient or cost-effective.

          I do believe this effort is meant to gain insight/edification.

          Do not all of us do things occasionally just because we want to tinker and gain experience - even if its not the best way to do it? 1KM is not a lot of road, but its enough to get a scalable idea of what to practically expect.

          This is an educational toy. And worth it.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:30PM

            by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:30PM (#446690) Homepage

            I do believe this effort is meant to gain insight/edification.

            What kind of insight? That putting solar panels where 18-wheelers will drive over them and break them is a dumb idea when there's all sorts of real estate without that problem that could be used instead? That putting square circuits into a hexagonal shape for no reason is counterproductive? That there are rubes who will support staggeringly stupid kinds of engineering if they look cool and sound like they might help save the environment?

            Solar roadways are an idea that makes sense only if your goal is to make solar power seem as inefficient and impractical as possible.

            --
            A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @06:23PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @06:23PM (#446773)

              What kind of insight? That putting solar panels where 18-wheelers will drive over them and break them is a dumb idea when there's all sorts of real estate without that problem that could be used instead? That putting square circuits into a hexagonal shape for no reason is counterproductive? That there are rubes who will support staggeringly stupid kinds of engineering if they look cool and sound like they might help save the environment?

              Solar roadways are an idea that makes sense only if your goal is to make solar power seem as inefficient and impractical as possible.

              I'm more inclined to think that the government (or company) who installed these at a substantial expense has spent more time and effort on this than a random commenter on the internet. If it were as obvious as you seem to think it is then nobody would bother.

              So turning your post around, my guess is they want to find out:
              1) That their models and which suggest these roads will be durable enough to withstand 18-wheelers for X number of years is actually valid.
              2) The manufacturing processes to create hexagonal cells is valid, cost efficient, and scaleable. (Or alternatively creating square circuits on roads work, or the waste from jamming squares into hexagons isn't "too much.")
              3) What are the unforeseen benefits and drawbacks of such a road. Maybe they don't need to be de-iced in Winter? Maybe car studs destroy them? Maybe they produce extra energy during rain because of some strange phenomina of how the humidity affects electrical conductivity? Maybe they create too much glare in the evenings to safely drive on?

              It's not my money, so I'm happy to see them try this out. Unless you happen to live in France, then why do you care how they are spending their money?

              • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Wednesday December 28 2016, @11:43PM

                by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @11:43PM (#446889) Journal

                The manufacturing processes to create hexagonal cells is valid, cost efficient, and scaleable. (Or alternatively creating square circuits on roads work, or the waste from jamming squares into hexagons isn't "too much.")

                I would have expected you, of all people, to favour hexagonal tesselation. Please consider changing your username to T-square. There is a group that wants to build roads from hexagonal modules:

                /article.pl?sid=14/05/23/0017212 [soylentnews.org]
                /article.pl?sid=16/10/06/1855218 [soylentnews.org]
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Roadways [wikipedia.org]

                A glance at the photo which adorns the article reveals that this project in France isn't that. It appears to have rectangular cells arranged, brick-like, into larger rectangular panels.

                Photovoltaic cells are made in hexagonal, circular, and other shapes. For the kind that are made from silicon wafers, a circular cell means the least wasted sillicon, since the wafers are inherently circular. Hexagonal cells offer efficient coverage of surface area in use, with some wasted silicon. Square cells also offer efficient coverage of surface area in use (more efficient, if the area is rectangular) but incur more wasted silicon.

                http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/341514/view [sciencephoto.com]
                http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4089705.html [freepatentsonline.com]

            • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday December 28 2016, @06:53PM

              by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @06:53PM (#446791) Journal

              How much do they save by not needing to run miles of copper to all those light poles, I wonder.

              • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:33PM

                by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @07:33PM (#446808) Homepage

                If all you wanted to do was power the light poles with minimal wiring, then you could put the solar panels on the top of the light poles. Or, depending on the situation, you could put the solar panels next to the road on a purpose-built rack mount, like those used in many solar installations in rural areas right now. Both of those options would be cheaper and easier than putting solar panels in the middle of the road.

                --
                A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
              • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:43PM

                by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:43PM (#446863) Journal

                How much do they save by not needing to run miles of copper to all those light poles, I wonder.

                1) How much money do they save by having just a single wire pair running along the street instead of a web of wire connecting all the individual road panels?

                2) How much copper wire does it really take to bridge the one foot gap between the light and the solar panel on top of it?
                http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-mdOQFs5eTr8/TZrIvrpkekI/AAAAAAAAARY/PO9RMPBVppk/s1600/solar-powered-light.jpg [blogspot.com]

          • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday December 28 2016, @03:35PM

            by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Wednesday December 28 2016, @03:35PM (#446724) Homepage
            The only thing that's going for it is that it's probably more cost efficient, due to reduced overheads, than 2m of panels on 500 family's rooftops in the village.
            Unfortunately, being flat, 2m of panels only collect 1-1.5m of light, whereas if they were on south-facing sloped roofs, they could collect up to 2m of light.

            I think research into better ways of collecting solar energy, new PV tech, is more important than experiments in deploying practically useless tech.
            --
            Life is a precious commodity. A wise investor would get rid of it when it has the highest value.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:36PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:36PM (#446669)

          Even bad ideas deserve a chance! Participation medals for all!

        • (Score: 2) by Bot on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:39PM

          by Bot (3902) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:39PM (#446861)

          Do not forget to make piezoelectric roads and wind turbines on the highways' sides and free all energy related research from patents and industrial secrets and plutocracy defending regulations.

          And kill all lawyers.

    • (Score: 1) by Francis on Wednesday December 28 2016, @08:35AM

      by Francis (5544) on Wednesday December 28 2016, @08:35AM (#446592)

      TBH, this kind of thing makes far more sense for the drivable portions of parking lots or roads in the middle of nowhere than it does to any of the places they've tried to use it.

      And even there, it would make more sense to have more conventional solar arrays as that way you could cover the entire parking lot and give people someplace to get out of the rain as they go to and from their vehicles.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @12:38PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @12:38PM (#446640)

        Probably makes sense only as a real-world testbed that gets accelerated wear compared to a parking lot or cycle lane so that they can make an educated guess if it would work 20-30 years (which I'm told is the average
        service life of streetlamps) there. Also the solar cells are probably just a small fraction of the 5 million total - modern road construction is expensive although (or because) you usually do not see more than five guys and a
        couple of strange steel beasts on site at any time.

    • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Wednesday December 28 2016, @12:38PM

      by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 28 2016, @12:38PM (#446639) Journal

      What I'd like to see is someone setup a camera along a portion and take still shots every time a car passes by. Then along with that, setup a data logger on the output and record the output of the array. Then we stitch the stills into a time-lapse video along with the power output plot and time stamps.

      I'd like to see how fast dirt grinds the surface into an opaque mess while watching the power output drop. I don't understand how anyone thinks this is a good idea.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:44PM (#446698)

        RTFA

        • (Score: 2) by LoRdTAW on Wednesday December 28 2016, @05:30PM

          by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 28 2016, @05:30PM (#446758) Journal

          IRTFA. Your point?

          • (Score: 1) by anubi on Thursday December 29 2016, @06:32AM

            by anubi (2828) on Thursday December 29 2016, @06:32AM (#446995) Journal

            I'd like to see how fast dirt grinds the surface into an opaque mess while watching the power output drop.

            I believe they have exactly the same curiosity about stuff like that as you do. And they are gonna find out. Empirically.

            --
            "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by bradley13 on Wednesday December 28 2016, @10:16AM

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 28 2016, @10:16AM (#446614) Homepage Journal

    Anyone in France, and able to follow the money? Someone is making a profit, there is pork in play, surely there is no other explanation.

    The article carefully avoids giving any useful cost/benefit data, for obvious reasons. We know that the road cost EUR 5 million to build, but we have little idea how much power it generates. Street lighting for a village of 3400 residents can't be much (small villages in France don't usually have much in the way of street lights), and they are uncertain that it will manage even that.

    Solar cells on a road: must be very tough, are installed at the wrong angle, will get dirty. The angle and the dirt combine: solar cells installed at an angle to catch the sun are (with the help of rain) largely self-cleaning. Worse: the dirt that accumulates on a road surface includes opaque tars and oils, which will not wash off easily.

    You could install the same quantity of solar cells next to the road - for example, on top of that concrete wall next to the road - properly angled, no toughening, at a fraction of the cost and achieving higher efficiency. What's so magical about a suboptimal, expensive installation? I'm not seeing the attraction.

    Of course, greens are all for projects like this, because (a) they can't do basic math and (b) they love spending other people's money.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by LoRdTAW on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:04PM

      by LoRdTAW (3755) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:04PM (#446650) Journal

      So lets do a little math. 2800m2 of panels. Assuming ideal conditions all around such as 100% PV coverage of all 2800m2, direct sun light, and no physical wear from vehicles. Given the average of 1kW·m2 we can say the system receives 2.8MW of solar energy. Though, panels are 15-20% efficient at best. Lets go with the best case scenario, 20%, to get 560kW electrical output which is 560kWh generating capacity. France's average cost per kWh is €0.1691 or $0.18 USD. Assuming a rough average of 1700 hours2 of sunlight for the region, that gives us 1700h*560kWh which is 952000kWh. So it is making
      €160,888/yr. So assuming 100% ideal conditions, they can expect a full return in a little over 31 years (€5M/€160,888).

      That's ideal. In reality I'm sure it will never even come close to generating half that amount of power. And the system most likely wont make 10% of the €5M before wear, snow, ice, and water kill it. But we'll probably never hear about it.

      All-in-all it's only good for once and for all proving its a dumb idea. Panels should go up high where they don't eat shit 24/7.

      1:https://www.french-property.com/guides/france/utilities/electricity/tariff/ [french-property.com]
      2: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/France/annual-days-of-sunshine.php [currentresults.com]

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @09:26PM (#446858)

        Another article I read on this said they expect a 10 year lifespan before replacement. Which is typical for roads.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:06PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:06PM (#446654)

      and cuz (c) greens are hitler and (d) you are jesus...

      If only you had left your crazy end riff out your comment would have been pretty decent.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bradley13 on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:54PM

        by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 28 2016, @02:54PM (#446706) Homepage Journal

        The end riff is the point. Why did this project get built? Who was in favor of it?

        Solar roads get there uncritical press in the green media, and are supported by the green political parties, despite being obviously stupid. There are only two possible explanations: either these people cannot do math, or they don't care since it's not their money. Those possibilities are not mutually exclusive.

        --
        Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @04:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @04:17PM (#446737)

          There could be conspiracy theory explanation, that is big coal pushing those insanities to make solar power a laughingstock before solar panels get so cheap and light that they get printed/glued onto all new roof materials.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @01:12PM (#446657)

      Anyone in France, and able to follow the money?

      The French people are never looking for the money! (hint: "Cherchez la femme")

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @03:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 28 2016, @03:43PM (#446727)

    Solar Freakin Roadways [youtube.com].