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First Solar Road Goes Public In France

27 December 2016, 1:08 pm EST By Vamien McKalin Tech Times
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France can be considered as the first country to ever have its roads covered with solar panels. The machine seen on the solar panel is actually a solar panel washing robot, cleaning panels near the Nellis Air Force Base.  ( Ethan Miller | Getty Images )

Alternative energy is the way to go these days, and solar is probably the best and most affordable option right now. We've seen solar panels laid out in various places, but never have we seen solar panels attached to roads.

This is happening right now in France, as the country became the first to open a solar road. It's just a test run as of now, so the solar panels have not been used to cover a huge swat of road. Only 1 kilometer of road has so far been fitted with solar panels.

What's The Idea Behind This Plan

Whatever energy collected from the solar panels won't be powering homes or government facilities. Instead, the energy will be used to power streetlights for over 3,400 residents. It might be a good idea to have solar panels fitted to roads  to power streetlights. If the plan goes well, other countries might be adopting the same.

What's The Cost

Fitting 30,000 square feet of solar panels on 1 kilometer of road costs about  $5.2 million, so imagine if there comes a day France decides to convert all public transportation roads into solar. It wouldn't be cheap, but it could help with energy problems for the long term.

Now, if you're wondering how these solar panels will hold up against small and big vehicles, well, the panels have been covered in silicon-based resin. We can't say for sure how well it will hold up until vehicles have driven on it for quite some time.

According to The Guardian, if everything goes as planned, France will then require 1,000 kilometers of the French highway to be fitted with solar panels. Over time, every inch of French roads could have solar panels attached.

Are Solar Road Panels Good Enough

When compared with the solar panels installed on roofs, these road panels are less effective. Furthermore, these panels tend to cost more than the regular panels, but the price tag could slip if the plan of adding solar panels to 1,000 kilometer of roads moves forward in the future.

Solar-Powered Leafs

Researchers are also planning to create artificial solar-powered leafs for the purpose of producing drugs for sick astronauts on the Red Planet, Mars. It's a proof of concept idea right now, but from what we have seen of technology over the past couple of years, anything is possible.

It could take several decades before a synthetic leaf is fully made real.

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