WATTWAY – a new life for roads

July 15, 2019

This is a unique project of the COLAS company. In principle, it is a "solar road", where the solar energy is used like in standard photovoltaic panels.

It is based on exceptionally thin (approximately 7 mm) but resistant panels of polycrystalline silicone, which are able to convert solar energy into electricity. These very fragile photovoltaic cells are embedded in a multiple-layer substrate consisting of epoxies and polymers, which guarantee the elasticity of the resulting panel. This cover is sufficiently transparent for the permeation of sunlight, but it can withstand the pressure of freight transport. The 1.80 x 0.70 m panels have undergone rigorous testing, which proved the suitability for use on roads, including anti-skid properties. The lifetime of the panels should be on a level similar to a standard road.

Electric power produced in this way can be used locally, for example in public lighting and in residential areas. For example, according to calculations, 20 m2 of area covered by the Wattway panels meet power demands of one family, with the exception of heating.

Following the presentation of the Wattway project to the media in October 2015, more than 40 trial sites have been rolled out in France and around the world. Their goal is to test the Wattway solution in real conditions to help advance the technology, electrical architecture, and installation techniques, while evaluating the uses of the electricity produced.

Like any photovoltaic system, production depends on the installed peak power and the amount of sunshine. Wattway slabs boast 120 Watt peak / m² and production can vary from 40 to 120 kWh / m² per year depending on the location. For example, with 120 kWh / m² / year in Reunion Island, a 3-m² Wattway installation can charge 2 e-bikes equipped with 500 Wh batteries in one day.

Be it from trials in Europe, Asia, or North America, feedback from around the world has been of great use. COLAS is convinced that there are very relevant new solutions for supplying electricity to roadside equipment. This is why COLAS plans to market small-sized solutions (just a few square meters) to power equipment that is not connected to the electricity grid (for example a stand-alone remote video surveillance camera in Montpellier). The first Wattway offer will be marketed in the 4th quarter of 2019 at the earliest. These solutions help facilitate new mobility services and enhance safety in blind spots on the electricity network, and have been awarded the Solar Impuls Foundation label. In parallel with this offer, COLAS will continue to develop the project, to improve robustness under more demanding traffic conditions and weather, and to increase power, in order to reduce prices and carbon impact.

 With Wattway, COLAS is aiming to increase the range of uses provided by infrastructure and to play a role in building shared, connected roads to accommodate new mobilities. This is why the Group continues to invest in the long term by incessantly improving technology. 

More at: www.wattwaybycolas.com

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