The Solar Roadways project in the US may have successfully installed electricity-producing panels in a parking lot and a town square, but bigger things are happening on the other side of the Atlantic. The French Minister for the Environment, Energy and Sea, Ségolène Royal, has today officially launched a kilometer long solar road project in Normandy. Nearly 3,000 Wattway panels running through a small village in north-west France are expected to produce an average of 767 kWh of electricity per day, peaking in summer months to as much as 1,500 kWh.

Some 2,880 photovoltaic panels have been installed between the south exit of Route RD5 at Tourouvre to where it meets the N12 at le Gué-à-Pont for the Wattway trial. Each panel has been designed to withstand the punishment of regular road traffic and can be linked to electrical equipment and networks.

The installation is expected to produce somewhere in the region of 280 MWh of electricity each year, and an information display alongside the solar road powered by the PV array will provide locals with electricity production updates, as well as a running total figure. The electricity produced will be fed into the network operated by Enedis.

"This trial site has enabled us to improve our photovoltaic panels installing process as well as their manufacturing, in order to keep on optimizing our innovation," said Wattway's Jean-Charles Broizat.

According to The Local, the state-funded project cost €5 million to construct and will undergo testing for the next two years, which will see around 2,000 motorists driving over the panels every day.

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