The “solar road” results are in, and predictably, they suck

Four years ago a viral campaign wooed the world with a promise of fighting climate change and jump-starting the economy by replacing tarmac on the world’s roads with solar panels. The bold idea has undergone some road testing since then. The first results from preliminary studies have recently come out, and they’re a bit underwhelming.

A solar panel lying under a road is at a number of disadvantages. As it’s not at the optimum tilt angle, it’s going to produce less power and it’s going to be more prone to shading, which is a problem as shade over just 5 per cent of the surface of a panel can reduce power generation by 50 per cent.

The panels are also likely to be covered by dirt and dust, and would need far thicker glass than conventional panels to withstand the weight of traffic, which will further limit the light they absorb.

One of the first solar roads to be installed is in Tourouvre-au-Perche, northwest France. This has a maximum power output of 420kW, covers 2800sq m and cost €5 million ($8 million) to install. This implies a cost of €11,905 ($A19,230) per installed kW.

While the road is supposed to generate 800kWh/day (kilowatt hours per day), some recently released data indicates a yield closer to 409kWh/day, or 150,000kWh/yr.

For an idea of how much this is, the average home uses around 10kWh/day. The road’s capacity factor — which measures the efficiency of the technology by dividing its average power output by its potential maximum power output — is just 4 per cent.

In contrast, the Cestas solar plant near Bordeaux, which features rows of solar panels carefully angled towards the sun, has a maximum power output of 300,000kW and a capacity factor of 14 per cent. And at a cost of €360 million ($A581 million), or €1200 ($A1938) per installed kilowatt, one-tenth the cost of the solar roadway, it generates three times more power.

Several of their SR3 panels have been installed in a small section of pavement in Sandpoint, Idaho. This is 13.9sq m in area, with an installed capacity of 1.529kW. The installation cost is given as $US48,734 (about $A67,000), which implies a cost per installed kilowatt of $A44,420 more than 20 times higher than the Cestas power plant.

And this is before we look at the actual data from the Sandpoint installation, which generated 52.397kWh in six months, or 104.8kWh over a year. From this we can estimate a capacity factor of just 0.782 per cent, which is 20 times less efficient than the Cestas power plant.

Full story here:

h/t to Ozspeakup

Dylan Ryan is a lecturer in Mechanical & Energy Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University.

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Tom Halla
September 24, 2018 9:59 am

A .782 % capacity factor? Seems about right, as it was virtue signalling anyway.

Reply to  Tom Halla
September 24, 2018 4:45 pm

New frontiers in stupidity.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Tom Halla
September 24, 2018 7:18 pm

“Follow the yellow brick road…”

R Shearer
September 24, 2018 10:01 am

Why don’t they just bury them underground, take the subsidies and call it good?

Reply to  R Shearer
September 24, 2018 6:38 pm

Buried solar panels would actually make more sense:

– for the project itself: less wear, less maintenance, less economic losses
– for the cars: less vibrations while on that glassy pseudo-road
– for the neighbors: less noise from the cars

Pop Piasa
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 24, 2018 7:21 pm

I say make the road piezoelectric, and the heavier the vehicle the more power generated.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
September 24, 2018 9:13 pm

I raise by:

– build an overhead line
– generate free energy from pressure of cars and trucks
– power the cars and trucks via overhead line with free energy

Thomas E
Reply to  Pop Piasa
September 25, 2018 6:35 am

Yeah, but again efficiency. This would then create a load on the vehicles. If you are going to create electricity out of fossil fuels, the best way to do it would be directly with purpose built machines, like gas turbine generators.

Although, I like the perpetual machine aspect of it. Use the energy of the car passing to charge a battery, that then can recharge the car at night. 😀

Another Paul
Reply to  Thomas E
September 25, 2018 11:36 am

“Use the energy of the car passing to charge a battery, that then can recharge the car at night” Let’s not forget to add a small wind turbine to recoup the energy lost to windage.

Bryan A
September 24, 2018 10:01 am

Careful or You’ll make green heads explode from Understanding

Bryan A
September 24, 2018 10:02 am

Careful or you’ll make Green Heads explode with Understanding

Reply to  Bryan A
September 24, 2018 3:44 pm

Green Heads usually implode from the internal vacuum.

John Hardy
September 24, 2018 10:03 am

A good try but no cigar

D. Anderson
September 24, 2018 10:06 am

This guy debunked it 4 years ago.

Reply to  D. Anderson
September 26, 2018 5:12 pm

Why not just look at the little Cat’s Eye markers that are in use today. These wonderful devices light up from the reflection from your head lights and are usually buried in the road surface by craving out a indentation using a asphalt cutting wheel. They look great for the first year but after a winter season around here they loose their effectiveness and there seems to be a few missing ones from the use of snowplows to remove the snow that graces our roads. Another scam like the likes of Soladine that fleeced the American taxpayers under Obama for $580 million dollars and nothing to show for it. I also use LED’s for my Christmas display and could have put this demonstration “ROAD” together for about $3,000 the way it sits in the video.

Caligula Jones
September 24, 2018 10:06 am

Are you insinuating that press releases and corporate bumph might not pan out?

Can we perhaps take away the pensions of the fools in government who promote this crap, and give them instead stock options in these kinds of companies?

Stephen Richards
Reply to  Caligula Jones
September 24, 2018 1:11 pm

The fool was Segolène Royal who strode purposefully along the road just before it was switched on.

The president was Hollande the second worst of all time. The worst is Macron

Reply to  Stephen Richards
September 24, 2018 6:51 pm

Ségolène Royal’s proposal (during presidential debate against Nicholas Sarkozy) for protecting policewomen from rape: give each woman cop a bodyguard when she gets back home.

This is the usual level of her “reasoning”.

September 24, 2018 10:09 am

Pity no info. on life cycle under these punishing conditions, nor on performance under a few centimetres of ice and snow, nor on the coefficient of friction involved.
I suppose these were omitted as with these figures the idea is a dead duck anyway, unless you are after a wadge of grant money.

Joel O'Bryan
September 24, 2018 10:09 am

We live in remarkable times when we apparently have vast sums of wealth which people are ready and willing to throw away on green virtue “feel-good” schemes.

But then all of these green blob energy schemes were built with OPM. Like a little rich girl with daddy’s credit card… spend while you can before he gets the bill.

Heck, who doesn’t like free beer at a reception. Who doesn’t like free stuff? But you better check your wallet on the way out.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 24, 2018 10:25 am

…only affluent societies have the leisure time for all this green crap

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 24, 2018 7:00 pm

I don’t think it’s so much an ecoloon Earth saving thing, just a look at me my “commune” is so high tech it’s now on the map thing.

September 24, 2018 10:09 am

This is what happens when you get virtue signaling politicians, activists, and gold digging manufacturers (aren’t they all?) in the same room. An average engineering 101 student would have predicted this outcome. Wait until the conditions are less than optimum and age/wear/damage takes its’ toll. This is our tax money wasted.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  markl
September 24, 2018 2:12 pm

In a couple years time they’ll need to pull up all these broken panels and electrical wires and put down real road pavement. Adding more the cost to the public yet again.

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
September 24, 2018 9:08 pm

What is the worst case risk with broken panels and nude wires?

Has it been studied in detail? What testing was done before that was installed on open roads?

Why should we assume it’s safe? Precautionary principle!!!!

Also think of the children.

Reply to  markl
September 24, 2018 6:41 pm

At least they could have done the “road” experiment on a roof, just to see whether that stuff could even handle weather.

Reply to  simple-touriste
September 25, 2018 6:50 am

They did such an experiment in the US on the ground in an area that would see only pedestrian traffic.

the initial install half the panels were DOA, half the rest failed within a couple of weeks. Thunderf00t visited the Idaho prototype’s third installation, and 3 out of 30 panels were dead after 1 month.

kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 10:12 am

Error in claimed daily electric usage by a home. In 2016 in the U.S. the average monthly electrical usage was 897 kWhrs, or 30 kWhrs per day, not 10.

Reply to  kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 10:28 am

The reference in the post was likely to a non-US average home.

Here in New Hampshire, I use about 30 kWh per day, more when running air conditioners, less when the dehumidifier is enjoying cold weather.

Reply to  kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 12:00 pm

I do check my electric bill for kWh per month, just to see if I’m overdoing things. But as it happens, my usage is well below whatever that 30/day usage is, by about a country mile.
August: 7.2 kWh/day
September : 7.6 kWh/day
I have no idea where that 30 kWh/day comes from but it isn’t even close to my usage rate.

Reply to  Sara
September 24, 2018 1:32 pm

You know, none of these figures thrown out are useful without reference to the living conditions (environment, square footage, house vs. apartment, number of people, billing method).

So, mine is around 40kWh for last month. Environment = Arizona desert; square footage = 2,300; separate house; five people; straight billing (not budget, which would be averaged over the year). Just about 8kWh per person in August. Which quite a bit higher than it will be in January (no time right now to dig in the file, have an errand to head out for in ten minutes).

Don K
Reply to  Sara
September 25, 2018 4:36 am

30kWh per day is a more or less conventional number for North American (US and Canada) household usage. It varies depending on household size, climate, type of heating/cooling, etc. But it’s a handy average for all customers lumped together. The number has been around a while. Despite increased use of air conditioning, it has probably been dropping a bit in recent years as folks switch away from electric heat, incandescent bulbs have been replaced by more efficient CFL and LED, and appliances have become more energy efficient.

Reply to  kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 12:27 pm

That’s including Gorey’s home electrical usage.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 1:15 pm

Tucson, Arizona.
I have two separate A/C units for my 2,800 sf home and a large 35,000 gallon pool that runs a 1 hp pump 10 hrs/day in summer months (less time as water cools down in winter months).
My electricity usage for August bill was 1,670 Kwh, which averaged 57.5 Kwh/day for the 29 day billing period. (In Southern Arizona, July sees hotter afternoon maximum temps, but August is the hottest month because monsoon humidity keeps the nights warmer).

But come October-April, my A/C is shut off, and only need some force-air gas-heat in December-January, so my monthly electricity usage is about 600-650 Kwh/month for those 7 months, or 20-25 Kwh/day, half of which is the pool pump.

We have on our November ballot a Tom Steyer paid-for voter initiative (Prop 127) to force Arizona utilities to source 50% of all Arizona electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030. Dumb as a box of rocks that one. Consumers’ electric bills would go up 50% by 2025, and double by 2030.
California lunacy trying to spread here, for a idiotic liberal billionaire. Steyer is of course aided by an Army of useful idiots on the Left with their Climate Religion.

While Arizona has lots of sunshine, we still have night here. Which means the duplicate the power sources, to pay for the lunacy to make Tom Steyer’s Green Hedge funds even richer.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
September 24, 2018 1:38 pm

About right – thank you for also providing the CONTEXT, Joel.

Please, anyone else posting figures after this, do so with context; the results should be interesting. So far, we really only have two Tucson people, which is obviously not even relevant to Arizona as a whole. (Phoenix is far worse, Flagstaff will be wildly different.)

By the way, WUWT is one of the few sites I have the ad blocker turned off for, to give Anthony a few more daily pennies – have you seen the 127 ads showing up? I’ve been clicking the little “report this ad” link every time…

Reply to  kent beuchert
September 25, 2018 4:37 am

For France, it was around 8500 kWh/year in 2009 according to a Swedish? source on Wikipedia. Most of that was for room heating. So for a northern Department, where this road is located, 10 kWh is about right.

Outside of roads, the county hardly owns any land. So this project was an eggsellent way to do some virtue signaling without having to rely on the unwashed masses. Modifying building codes is just not very rewarding in election cycle time scales.

Don K
Reply to  RLu
September 25, 2018 4:46 am

That’s fine, but put the panels on platforms above the road, not in the road. It’s cheaper and they’ll work better. (The platforms might screw up GPS and cell phone reception though)

Bruce Cobb
September 24, 2018 10:14 am

The road to hell is paved with Green dementias.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 24, 2018 10:35 am


D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
September 24, 2018 10:39 am

Thread winner!!!

Farmer Ch E retired
September 24, 2018 10:18 am

Jacques Cousteay quote: “World population must be stabilized and to do that we must eliminate 350,000 people per day.”

Solar roads like this on a larger scale would be a good start to achieving this population goal. / s

Reply to  Farmer Ch E retired
September 24, 2018 10:25 am

The environmentalist dream: solar powered soylent green factories.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Craig
September 24, 2018 2:13 pm

Well, at least they’d only operate every now and then. And if the rest of the factory was like their power source, it’d probably not operate much at all, ever.

September 24, 2018 10:19 am

… it’s going to be more prone to shading, which is a problem as shade over just 5 per cent of the surface of a panel can reduce power generation by 50 per cent.

Given that electronic circuits are dirt cheap, I’m surprised that panel makers haven’t solved this. The individual unshaded cells are able to produce their full power. It’s only the way they are hooked up that kills the panel’s output so badly.

September 24, 2018 10:20 am

Both of these sites enjoyed great headlines though, along with Tesla roof tile systems that were never delivered. That is much more important than facts and figures in the post-modern advocacy world. That also explains why there will be zero news coverage of this fact checking now.

Except this one…..

Reply to  ResourceGuy
September 24, 2018 12:50 pm

The Tesla solar tiles needed Hillary to win the last election. Musk would have been doing quite well by now, if the election results had been different.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  goldminor
September 24, 2018 1:19 pm

Elon ain’t starving as it is. No tears here.

kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 10:20 am

It is sad commentary that so many “experts’ were unable to see the stupidities of the concept.
There is always plenty of land asociated with the Interstate highways where one could errect
solar panels in the proper way.
I even saw one proposal to do this in parking lots. I had to assume that they did not mean in the
portion of the tarmac used for the parking spaces (!!!??!!) .

Reply to  kent beuchert
September 24, 2018 11:12 am

I would put them on frames 15 feet above the surface, mounted southward at exactly the latitude angle from vertical toward the equator. It has the advantage of providing shade for the cars and power, though cleaning the panels would be a bit of a bear.

Bryan A
Reply to  OweninGA
September 24, 2018 12:04 pm

That is what the Guys in Orange are for…Community Service in lieu of Jail Time

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Bryan A
September 24, 2018 12:38 pm

In addition to jail time

Reply to  OweninGA
September 24, 2018 1:51 pm

Those are sprouting up on every public school parking lot here in Tucson. Some grant writer made a big score… I’d be surprised if they actually included the cost of cleaning, though. The water rates here are horrible (for good reasons of scarcity).

At least they’ll still be useful in five years; covered parking is, for some reason, still at a premium around here. (No snow/ice loading in the winter here, so they’ll be good until enough idiots manage to ram the pillars.)

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  OweninGA
September 24, 2018 2:17 pm

One of our local hospitals have put solar water heaters in arrays above the car park. I hear they work rather well.,152.9510582,3a,75y,245.36h,97.88t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sDhCVe6IEL9sjjZuWRo345g!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Reply to  Greg Cavanagh
September 25, 2018 6:33 am

Solar water heaters make a lot more sense than PV panels for some applications. At least hot water can be stored cheaply as compared to electricity. And since there are nor grid-tied hot water systems, net metering isn’t an issue!

September 24, 2018 10:22 am

But, but, but the imagery is unbeatable.

J Mac
September 24, 2018 10:22 am

Only true fools would choose to waste limited resources on such a fundamentally flawed and inefficient fiasco as a ‘solar panel highway’ in Idaho.

Can you imagine what these not-worth-the-effort solar panels would look like after a tire-chained heavy snowplow has crunched and clawed its way over them a few times, clearing deep snow drifts and laying down salt and sand?

John the Econ
September 24, 2018 10:27 am

I recall many of the eco-geeks going nuts about this idea several years ago. Totally oblivious to the cost of anything, they consider ideas like this to be “free energy” since roads are already everywhere. Never mind that compared to ordinary solar panels which are comparatively fragile, these things would have to be designed and built to stand up vehicle traffic in addition to extreme weather. And, of course, then there’d be the ongoing maintenance that these things would inevitably require, which will certainly be more than patching concrete or asphalt.

I don’t know about where most of the rest of you live, but my local government has enough trouble just keeping simple asphalt in better than third-world condition. I can’t imagine them trying to keep these things in working order, especially considering that this cost better than $3-million a mile.

Reply to  John the Econ
September 24, 2018 11:25 am

I was tossing around how to explain to folk ‘free solar’ and ‘free wind’ ain’t free and how chasing these unicorns can be substantially more costly than the evolved sources we already use – and thus uses more resources which means waste. Explaining the manufacture costs of making a solar cell can *never* be recovered doesn’t cut it, only results in blank stares . Too many reject it saying ‘yes but it’s just money’; not clicking money cost means real world cost (what fantasy land do they come from!?) and it’s been hard to get it across. Waste = waste. Somewhere stuff has to be done to make that money – effectively wasteful things if the money is wasted.

think I may have it..

There’s free crayfish offshore! Unlike those expensive $45 ones at Coles.. and they’re totally free!

all you need is a day free, spend $1000 on a cheap boat and row out or make it 2 grand for a powered one, oh, and do the skipper license course, spend a couple of hundred on cray pots, epirb, lifejackets and so forth and yay – free crayfish! Oh wait, you’ll need a car to get the boat to the waterline + you’ll have to drive, add $50 for your fuel from Toodyay, drivers license, car registration of a grand a year, insurance – might want a radio for the boat too .. but there you go, free crayfish! It’s just money.. so there’s not really any cost or waste involved. (/snort)

when they start talking subsidies – that’s cool, the bloke next door wants these free crayfish.. so you buy him a boat, you get the guy a car..

John the Econ
Reply to  Karlos51
September 24, 2018 12:11 pm

“There’s free crayfish offshore! Unlike those expensive $45 ones at Coles.. and they’re totally free!”

Love that. Brilliant, and I will be stealing some version of that example.

‘yes but it’s just money’

Funny how easily people say that when they think it’s someone else’s money. That’s how a nation gets over $20-trillion in debt.

Last week for kicks, I got a estimate for solar on my house. Long story short, around $20,000 (or $12,500 after tax credits, or “someone else’s money”) to save maybe $500-a-year if I’m lucky. That’s a lot to spend to save $500.

I can’t imagine how bad the return would be if I chose to pave my driveway with panels instead.

September 24, 2018 10:33 am

I wonder what a hamster in a wheel could generate? I may be on to something. An arrangement of female driven alternating with male driven wheels could keep the herd (I guess that’s as good a collective noun as any for hamsters) fully motivated. You could give them short breaks to eat, drink and mate. Then give the females maternity leave. Pretty soon you’d have an ever increasing work force at no cost beyond food and water. Admittedly their gaseous digestive byproducts would be releasing greenhouse gases but growing the food to feed them could easily compensate for that and might even earn you carbon credits. I know rats, being larger and stronger, could probably produce more electricity but they do have a bit of a PR problem whereas everyone likes hamsters. They’d work day and night. Making sure all the squeaky wheels got plenty of grease would keep noise pollution at a minimum level. There would be no chance of bats or eagles getting serious or fatal injuries from the spinning wheels. Hamsters seldom burst into flames or fly apart and even if one did it would pose little danger to structures and persons nearby. I really believe hamster energy is the way to go.

Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
September 24, 2018 11:08 am

A group of hamsters is called a “horde”. Why, I haven’t a clue.

Bryan A
Reply to  rbabcock
September 24, 2018 12:06 pm

So is a group of Zombies though they don’t scurry as fast

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  rbabcock
September 24, 2018 1:17 pm

and Leftists are lemmings.
I just call them “stupid.”

Ben of Houston
Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
September 24, 2018 11:51 am

According to Reddit, a hamster generates about 2 W of power at maximum velocity of 2.5 mpg scurrying speed. You need a lot of hamsters

Reply to  Ben of Houston
September 24, 2018 3:17 pm

But think of all the free hamster poo the system will generate!

Reply to  Ben of Houston
September 24, 2018 9:26 pm

Is that with organic food or the usual kind?

What if the little fella is given vitamin?

What is his ideal temperature?

John Endicott
Reply to  Ben of Houston
September 25, 2018 8:30 am

“According to Reddit, a hamster generates about 2 W of power at maximum velocity of 2.5 mpg scurrying speed.”

is that a laden or unleaden swallow hamster? (with apologies to monty python).

Craig from Oz
Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
September 24, 2018 4:41 pm

“Hamsters seldom burst into flames…”


Clearing implying that somewhere on the bell curve they DO burst into flames.

Okay, I know what you are saying, but I still laughed 😀

Haruto Rat
Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
September 27, 2018 4:49 am

I know rats, being larger and stronger, could probably produce more electricity but they do have a bit of a PR problem whereas everyone likes hamsters.

Most rats lose interest in wheels once they grow up. Females often are not interested at all. It’s like humans and skateboards/roller skates. 🙂

Rats also require solid wheels that wouldn’t break their tails, wire mesh is no good.

Peta of Newark
September 24, 2018 10:37 am

Only very slightly similar and, having met them, are absolutely brilliant.
In the dark and on a twisty bit of road going North out of Maltby, Rotherham (Holywell Lane, I think)

Just wow how good they are, but, the claims being made are a bit ‘over the top’. Surely.
How can a glass solar-cell + battery + electronics +wiring + led be “more reliable” and longer lasting” and “cheaper” than a simple clear-glass marble?
Who sells this junk. I know who buys it.
Me, but not through choice.

But when new and working properly, are stonkingly good.

September 24, 2018 10:37 am

Yet I still see the fundamental problem that the greens face in promoting renewables to become 100% of our electricity supply what do we do when wind turbines and solar panels are not making electricity. Sure you can pump water, charge batteries or make hydrogen but how much more space will those “storage” technologies require?

September 24, 2018 10:39 am

Photo op stage props do not need to be sturdy or efficient. They just need friends at the funding agencies and at the media outlets.

Nigel in California
September 24, 2018 11:29 am

How was the 4% capacity factor calculated? I don’t see how the numbers provided ended with 4%. Can someone show me how was done?

Shaun Triner
Reply to  Nigel in California
September 24, 2018 8:22 pm

Nigel, 420KW x 24 hours = 10,080 kwh per day. Actually prodcued 409kwh/day so 409/10,080 = 4%

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
September 24, 2018 11:32 am

This is not in the least surprising; what is surprising is that anyone thought for a moment this could be a good idea. Road surfaces take an incredible beating over time — just take a close look at one five years old or more and the cracks and dips a plain to see. Collisions, spills, frost damage and subsurface water erosion accelerate the process. Even roads in good shape are constantly being torn up to fix buried pipes or improve drainage. The cost of adopting a road surface which is at least 100 times more expensive than asphalt to install and maintain simply cannot be made up, even with the most optimistic estimate of power generated.

John the Econ
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
September 24, 2018 12:19 pm

Or the way I put it, if local governments cannot afford to maintain current road infrastructure, how will they ever be able to keep up with this? It’s obvious that it won’t be funded by all of the “free” electricity that these things will supposedly be generating.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
September 24, 2018 2:06 pm

And roads in the Northern states get snow, ice, salt, and plows. This is not good for cars, let alone electronics.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
September 24, 2018 9:50 pm

I wonder how much of that harden glass surface becomes harden glass splinters after a few years?

Where is the ecological impact study?

September 24, 2018 12:04 pm

Only the greens or the Left could come up with an idea as stupid as embedding solar panels in roads. It just boggles the mind.

September 24, 2018 12:08 pm

When your taxpayer funded/subsidized, pipe-dream program fails, you obviously haven’t spent enough. Let the writing of new grant applications commence!

September 24, 2018 12:14 pm

“They had fun, fun fun until the gov’ took their T-Birds away”

michael hart
September 24, 2018 12:22 pm

Despite his political stances on Brexit/cAGW, youtuber “Thunderfoot” has done some excellent videos on this particular stupidity.

When in a less generous mood I sometimes think that they should have a “solar roadway” day every year, just so we can keep track of the congenitally gullible who need medical help.

Steve O
September 24, 2018 1:07 pm

The question is, why did ANYONE ever think this was an idea even worth studying?

September 24, 2018 1:49 pm

The level of stupid required to think that burying solar panels in roadways was a good idea is incredible.
Presumably they were hoping to make expensive land “dual use”, but that only applies in the cities, where those roads are covered in cars and shadowed by buildings. So a silly idea.
On country roads, you’d have to be mad to want panels in the road surface as land is cheap and properly inclined cheap to install panels would be far more economical.

So there literally was no use-case to justify this but it still received millions of taxpayer funds because it was “green”. We really have reached peak stupid.

Reply to  harry
September 24, 2018 4:01 pm

The level of stupid needed to promote that idea is reached by Ségolène Royal:

– mother of former French president François Hollande’s children,
– former minister of education,
– former presidential candidate (lost to Nicholas Sarkozy),
– former minister of of “ecology, sustainable development, energy”.

John Endicott
Reply to  harry
September 25, 2018 8:27 am

Idk harry, there doesn’t ever seem to be a peak to stupid. Just when you think you’ve found the peak of stupid an even higher peak appears just a little further along.

September 24, 2018 2:13 pm

Wait, don’t cars cover the roads much of the time, since roads ARE for cars? Have these visionaries really figured in all the shadowing from all the cars that actually use the roads? And all the dirt and scratches? And all the weight? And all of the costs to keep solar roads clean enough? And the repairs?

Could people hijack the power, to save paying their electric bill? What security threats might they pose? (I have no idea at present, but just wondering)

Forgive me, if I am not enthusiastic about solar roads. They seem like a ridiculous idea.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
September 24, 2018 6:24 pm

Colas says that cars only cover 5% of the roads. That’s believable, this isn’t some street were cars are waiting at an intersection. Shadowing by cars isn’t the most serious issue IMHO.

The other issues, like dirt, scratching, vibrations, and thunderstorms are not remotely tractable: not by today’s technology, not by tomorrow’s technology. That they had a noise problem suggests strong vibration issue.

John Endicott
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
September 25, 2018 8:25 am

car shading is the least of the issues (and is variable depending on how heavily travelled the particular road is). Dirt is probably a bigger issue in regards to blocking the sun as roads accumulate dirt and debris quite easily. Not to mention environmental shading (buildings, trees, snow, etc) There are parts of my street, for example, that take forever to melt when it snows because there are large trees on both sides of the road blocking most of the heat of the sun from reaching the road surface (ie it’s well shaded throughout the day). Many city streets with skyscrapers on both sides similarly suffer from such “perpetual shade” limiting how much solar energy reaches the street surface. And a foot-deep snowstorm will bury those suckers quick as can be.

September 24, 2018 3:03 pm

This is actually a shame. This would have been a nice power generation scheme for road lights and such.

Reply to  William Teach
September 24, 2018 3:08 pm

Ha-ha-ha!!! Too funny!

John Endicott
Reply to  William Teach
September 25, 2018 8:13 am

Unicorn farts would also have been a nice power generation scheme. But both schemes have 1 thing in common: they are unworkable for obvious reasons.

September 24, 2018 3:13 pm

Doy! Never in the history of 21st Century stupidity was such a half-assed idea so obviously unworkable. One look is all it took. The trougherati were at it again.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
September 24, 2018 4:09 pm

In all Internet blogs, forums I went to, that solar road concept was harshly criticized by proponents of solar energy: they simply don’t see the point of putting PV cells there.

Many areas are available to put PV cells in France at a lower cost and easier access for maintenance, starting with building shades for parking lots.

September 24, 2018 3:43 pm

They forget to mention that the speed limit had to be lowered as the “solar road” was very noisy.

I wonder what that means in term of wear on wheels and the cost for car owners, who are more than paying for the road maintenance in France! But the French infrastructure is crumbling (except the privately managed highways). At least we have as many rotaries as the rest of European Union.

“Only” 5 % of the panels had to replaced after one year according to Colas. That “one year” being the FIRST YEAR. Oh my.

September 24, 2018 5:29 pm

This kind of road only works in “The Land of Oz”!

September 24, 2018 5:37 pm

I remember the previous posts here on the solar road/pavement, and I don’t recall one comment in favor of this idea as having absolutely any merit. It was stupid from the get go and the negative result is just a confirmation that it was even more stupid than the general population probably believed. Of course, it was good for a Friday Funny and all the ridicule one could muster. Just bizarre that something like this would get built. Probably a computer ‘model’ could have predicted the same result. Maybe if it were a covered bridge, and the solar panels were on the roof that was being built anyway, to provide lighting or some other critical application etc, then that may be more efficient than this hair brained scheme. What were they thinking/smoking?

I did see one place with solar panels for electricity and hot water on an South Pacific island near the equator that did make a lot of sense. The electricity pricing was about 25 cents/Kw/hr USD, and often suffered unpredictable rolling blackouts. The hotel had 30 200 watt panels along with some glass solar evacuated thermal tubes for hot water. Each hotel room was fed with a separate 3 amp dedicated circuit from a central inverter (220 V 60 cycle) so had the capacity for maybe 660 watts, but was only for a small efficient inverter fridge, LED lights, the internet modem, and the Sat TV. And a plug for a laptop and charging things. These were on 24/7 with this dedicated system, so maybe it was 350 watt load if everything running at once. There was a bank of old submarine batteries in a central location that had been scrounged and there were 3 pure sine wave 2 Kw inverters for the 12 rooms on the 3 amp circuit breaker for each room so if you plugged in your hair dyer, it would trip. It worked perfectly for the application, since they also had a battery charger that ran off the mains, or a back-up generator if worst came to worst in a monsoon for a week. The hot water was a gravity solar tower, so was always warm or hot water and the place was completely livable with amenities even if the utility power was off. The hotel kitchen was all fitted too, and had propane for a gas range. Except for A/C, unless they fired up the generator. The owner said he had a pay back of about 6-7 years on his entire costs, but the real beauty of this was that the hotel rooms had stable power for the smaller electronic loads that nobody likes to go without. Which made his place the most desirable place on the entire island and was always fully booked.

So there is a place for solar PV, but not really for a grid connection unless your avoided cost of utility power is about 30 cents/kw/hr, and you can bank any surplus (or get paid) and assuming no subsidies from the utility. And are nearish the equatorial regions. Much of the third world worth being a tourist in has electricity rates north of 25-30 cents USD, so solar PV is starting to look very viable especially if you want back up redundancy as the hotel I stayed did. I also have 800 watts of solar panels on my RV trailer too, and they are great when off the grid and want some peace and quiet from the generator. But the grid connected solar build out north of 40 degree latitude doesn’t make sense when you factor no production for winter.

johann wundersamer
September 24, 2018 9:19 pm

The “solar road” results are in, and predictably, they suck.

Yes, and how they SUCK.

Thx for reminding!

September 24, 2018 9:19 pm

“The panels are also likely to be covered by dirt and dust, and would need far thicker glass than conventional panels to withstand the weight of traffic, which will further limit the light they absorb.”

Thick glass is one thing; they have very thick glasses in money exchanges, and you see through it very well.

But road-glass, glass on which you can drive, that’s a completely different product.

And my intuitive guess is that the first power modelling that was promoted was for flat panels at that latitude, possibly with thick glass, but without the road-glass.

September 25, 2018 7:51 am

I live in northern Alberta, we have chained up snow plows that cruise the highways at 50 mph, pushing snow off, and spreading sand and salt. Even the asphalt does not survive some winters…

Reply to  Dino
September 25, 2018 10:28 am

Salted water on electric wiring, when the snow melts and the sun comes back, should be funny.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  simple-touriste
September 25, 2018 10:45 am

Well, since greenies don’t agree with animal testing, here’s where they can prove their committment.

“Here Emily, hold this while we test to see if this will electrocute any bunnies”.

September 25, 2018 10:25 am

Working in round numbers over a cup of coffee, half the land surface (sunny side) of earth is about 75 x 10^12 m2. Solar puts out 200 watt/m2. One concludes that if we were to cover the entire land surface with solar panels (leaving no room for terrestrial life), we could produce about 150 x 10^14 watts with solar. World energy consumption is estimated to be 1.575×10^17 watt-hour. Solar is not a serious player, unless you could put solar panels in orbit or on the moon free from atmospheric attenuation and get it down to Earth somehow. Earthbound solar is a waste of time and money, a novelty application at best.
Most of my home energy use is for heating and cooling. A geothermal heat pump would be the best way to lower that cost (By an estimated 80%). For commercial scale we need to see a demonstration of hot dry geothermal. Only this and nuclear (lwr, msr, fission-fusion hybrid, thorium, whatever) have the potential to replace natural gas and coal for the generation of electricity. Even without the CO2 scare it would be best to conserve natural gas and coal for future use as feedstock for materials rather than for energy consumption. Unfortunately as this article points out, solar and wind are not (and will not) make a dent.

Hocus Locus
September 25, 2018 6:02 pm

The results from NASA’s preoccupation with solar energy to power missions instead of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator results are ‘in’ … and they suck

September 26, 2018 8:08 am

Wouldn’t these roads be dangerously slippery to drive on? What a weird concept to begin with.

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