France has inaugurated the world’s first ever solar panel road with the official opening of the ‘Wattway’ in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy.

Built along a one kilometre-route, the Wattway is covered in 2,800sqm of resin-coated photovoltaic panels. Designed to be used by up to 2,000 motor vehicles each day, the €5-million solar panelled road will generate an average of 767 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day to power the entire street lighting system in this French village of 3,400 residents.

The French Government intends to extend this unique concept to 1,000 kilometres of roads throughout the country over the next five years.

Wattway Director Jean-Charles Broizat commented that the Wattway project was still in an experimental phase with the trial site providing a real opportunity for further innovation. He added that the trial site has enabled them to improve their photovoltaic panel installation as well as manufacturing processes to more optimised levels.

A two-year testing period will also determine the feasibility of adapting the technology to more roads.