News > Solar road surfaces pave the way for smart roads

Solar road surfaces pave the way for smart roads

 - 03/10/2016

Tomorrow’s roads will produce energy, provide ever more connected vehicles with data and be capable of self-analysing their condition, even self-repairing… tomorrow’s roads will be smart. Construction firm Colas has just developed the world’s first ever photovoltaic road surface.

From driverless vehicles to seaweed kerosene, there are no lack of innovations in the mobility pipeline. The current trend is towards roads that will produce both energy and data.

Colas, a subsidiary of Bouygues, has developed a photovoltaic road surface, called Wattway, with multiple applications. The adventure started back in 2005 when Colas’ R&D team sought to harness the potential of tens of millions of miles of road networks around the world. How could this vast reflective surface, which is almost constantly exposed to the sun, be better used? This led to the concept of photovoltaic panels inserted into the asphalt. The panels are installed directly onto existing roads (no need to rebuild everything from scratch!) and are suited to all types of road traffic, including HGV, providing a grip that is equivalent to that of traditional road surfaces.

The energy produced by this technology could contribute to street lighting, traffic lights, traffic information panels and lighting buildings and shops. More globally, smart roads will be able to collect real-time traffic data, manage traffic flow in the case of traffic jams, heat up in winter to prevent black ice and cool down in summer in the case of heat waves…


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Photo: ©Joachim Bertrand