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18 February 2016

France to lay 1,000km of solar roads

France has unveiled plans to cover 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) of roads with solar panels.

The French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal (pictured), made the announcement this week in a move that will help France achieve its renewable energy targets.

The Wattway project is a collaboration between French road builder Colas and the National Institute of Solar Energy.

According to Colas, the manufacturer of the panels, a 1-kilometre section of the surface can produce enough power for a town of 5,000 people.

Installing the solar-panel surface over the 1,000 kilometres of roads will take an estimated five years and could provide power for up to 8 per cent of the French population, or approximately 5 million people.

The surface is 7 mm thick and has photovoltaic cells in a polycrystalline silicon layer that is applied directly to the road.

The panels are designed to support fully-loaded trucks and provide the same level of traction as regular asphalt surfaces.

A 70-metre (230-foot) solar-panel bike path was installed in the Netherlands in 2014.

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