Australia aims to pave roads with solar

Source: By Peter Hannam, Sydney Morning Herald • Posted: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Australia might soon start harvesting solar energy from its roads.

Colas Group, a French construction firm, is developing solar panels that can be used to pave roads — thin, resilient tiles that can generate as much as 116 watts of electricity each.

One of the main challenges was ensuring that the product could handle the weight of vehicles. The producers are creating prototypes that are as tough as pavement. They expect that tiles on busy roads could last up to a decade and those placed in car parks would remain functional for twice as long.

Azeem Remtulla, general manager for a subsidiary of Colas in Sydney, said, “The fragile photovoltaic cells that you have in the panels are actually encapsulated in polymers and resins, so they are well protected.” He added that around 20 square meters of this tiling could meet a household’s energy needs. Given the Colas Group’s estimation that global roads remain empty for up to 90 percent of the time, this could be an efficient technique to produce solar power.

In the next half-decade, the company plans to construct 620 miles of road using these tiles, possibly in Adelaide, parts of Queensland and Sydney.