As we have discussed at length, the planet as an abundant amount of naturally occurring energy that we can tap in to and use, but only a few of them are renewable. The need to move away from fossil fuels is well documented by now, but we are still slow to make the changes needed. In some areas however, people are taking steps to ensure a brighter energy future.
In Orne, France, they are taking one kilometers worth of steps. Colas, a world leader in industrial paving technology, has begun to install the first kilometer of photovoltaic road pavers in this Northern French city.1 The technology is called Wattway; it is a photovoltaic cell covered in a blend of resins and polymers that’s durable enough to withstand heavy traffic yet translucent enough to allow light to be absorbed.2 This has the potential to change the game completely.
As humans we need infrastructure to go about our daily lives, its something that we never think about. So if we were able to use this already passive space as something more dynamic, we are already ahead of the curve. As mentioned, this is the first large scale implementation, so this will be a great proving ground for the projects goal of creating sustainable energy. If it should be a success, France plans to pave one thousand kilometer of roadway with Wattway within the next five years. One kilometer has the potential to supply power to 5,000 residents (excluding heating).2
Not only does this technology have the ability to change the energy supply, but it can impact how we view everyday spaces in our everyday lives. It will create a vast number of jobs in having to retrofit roads with Wattway, should it be successful thus giving a boost to the economy. It will also make cheap and accessible energy for those who normally wouldn’t be able to pay for conventional electricity. Lastly, it is a clean energy that is sustainable and healthy on the environment. It truly is a now path forward.