The city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, has unveiled what it calls the first solar roadway within a city in the United States.
Located in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Peachtree Corners installed solar panels in a section of its Technology Parkway, which also functions as an autonomous-vehicle testing lane, according to a press release from the city.
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.
Peachtree Corners' solar installation will produce more than 1,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to the city. That electricity will be used for a Level 2 electric-car charging station at city hall, which EV drivers will be able to use for free. An energy-storage system will allow for nighttime use.
Colas Wattway road-mounted solar panels
The solar-roadway project was undertaken in partnership with The Ray, an organization that uses an 18-mile stretch of Georgia highway as a proving ground technologies related to safety and emissions reductions. The Ray has already tested the materials to be installed on a portion of its highway.
Solar roadways have generated more media buzz than electricity. Most installations so far have been fairly small-scale, in part because of durability issues, as well as the relative inefficiency of solar panels when laid flat on the ground.
Yet, in addition to solar roads, other companies have suggested the idea of solar driveways. That admittedly sounds like a good fit with electric cars.
Others have proposed combining solar-roadway tech with inductive charging (which requires a relatively small surface area of the road) in the future. That concept has been tested with trucks on a small stretch of Swedish road, but the added cost could make larger-scale applications unfeasible.