The US has its first solar roadway

The city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, now boasts the first section of solar roadway in the United States, officials declared in a press release last week.

Peachtree Corners, a suburb of Atlanta, installed solar panels in a section of its Technology Parkway, which officials said also serves as a testing lane for self-driving cars.

The installation uses Wattway solar panels, manufactured by French road-building company Colas Group. The company previously said these panels can be applied directly to an existing road surface and provide comparable levels of grip to conventional paving materials.

In 2016, Colas announced plans to pave 621 miles of French roads with Wattway solar panels, although it’s unclear how much progress has been made to date.

Colas Wattway road-mounted solar panels

The Georgia solar roadway will produce more than 1,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to officials. That energy will be used for a Level 2 electric car charging station at Peachtree Corners’ city hall, which drivers will be able to use for free. An energy-storage system, consisting of battery packs that can store excess electricity, will allow for nighttime use.

The project was done in partnership with The Ray, an organization that uses a separate 18-mile stretch of Georgia highway as a testbed for new technologies. The Ray has already tested solar panels to be installed on this portion of highway.

While there have been several high-profile projects, such as turning a stretch of Route 66 into a solar road, actual solar-roadway installations have been fairly small scale so far.

The technology still generates buzz however, not only with the prospect of clean energy, but also features like heating elements that can automatically clear snow.

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