France opened the world’s first solar panel road today in the village of Tourouvre-au-Perche, population of 3,000, in Normandy, per The Verge. The one-kilometer road is made of 30,000 square feet of solar panels and generates enough electricity to power the town’s street lights. A silicon-based resin covers the solar panels so that they can withstand the weight of the 2,000 vehicles that drive the road everyday.
French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal is looking to add solar panels to 1,000 kilometers of French highway, but there are drawbacks to the panels. Namely, the road solar panels cost more than typical panels, with the one-kilometer road costing $5.2 million alone, and, since they lay flat, they’re less efficient than angled panels on rooftops.
The price of renewable energy technologies has dropped dramatically in recent years and Colas, the energy company that built the road, is hoping that the price of the road panels will see a similar drop, especially considering that they have 100 other projects currently in progress.