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Solar road panels that could power homes to be tested in Britain

Monday 28 November 2016, By Autovolo

Solar road panels that could power homes to be tested in Britain

Solar road panels that could power homes to be tested in Britain

A clever new “solar road” is set to be tested in the UK, and has the potential to power homes and businesses with clean, renewable energy.

The photovoltaic road surfacing, named Wattway, is layered on to the top of existing roads. It can withstand wear and tear associated with vehicles constantly travelling over it.

The solar panels, which are seven millimetres thick, are fixed in place with a high-performance resin. They are then treated with another glass bead resin coating. This helps to ensure the surface provides acceptable levels of frictional performance, without compromising the solar panels’ efficiency.

Carl Fergusson, executive director of strategy and development at Colas, the firm behind Wattway, 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.”

It is claimed that Wattway has the potential to produce enough energy to power highways and transportation infratstructure, such as variable message signs used on motorways, as well as street lights.

Colas also claims the energy could be returned to the National Grid, powering homes and businesses in the immediate area.

Fergusson said: “The first trial has already begun in France and by producing renewable energy, Wattway will certainly play a major role in building smart, sustainable roads of the future.”

Arrays of 15cm-wide cells that form an incredibly thin film of polycrystalline silicon capable of converting solar energy into electricity make up each solar panel. A special multilayer of resin and polymer coat the cells, which are capable of withstanding large vehicle traffic.

Wattway can also cope with the natural thermal expansion of the pavement, and has been treated to ensure it provides the same skid resistance as regular asphalt.

Fergusson said: “The trial sites will allow us to experiment with different ways to use this innovative technology and the feedback will help us validate the most appropriate solutions for our market.”

He added that this would help Colas build its offers for a full scale launch as of 2018.