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Our roads can be a ray of sunshine

If your job is filling in potholes on our roads may I humbly suggest you make your way to the job centre, or whatever the heck they’re called these days. Not because the money for doing this essential work has run out but because potholes are a thing of the past. I realize at this point you may be thinking that I am on some illicit substance. Stick with me here!

The world of road surfacing is about to undergo a massive injection of innovation. Solar roads.

Imagine you get up in the morning, flick on the kettle and your morning cuppa is powered from the energy captured by the miles of road outside your house. Our “auld alliance” partners, the French are on the case. The transport giant Colas which has developed a road surface lined in solar cells. Colas is working with the French government, which has made a pledge to install 621 miles of so-called solar roads over the next five years.

colas

Colas calls it’s special road surface Wattway, and despite a not very original name, claims that for every two hundred square feet of the stuff they can create enough electricity to power the average home. Apparently the surface is very durable and provides excellent grip.

Wattway is only a few millimeters thick and doesn’t require existing roads to be replaced. It can be applied directly on existing road surfaces, once the potholes have been filled in just one last time. One thing is certain, Wattway won’t be cheap and therein lies the problem. Who pays?

Do the power companies pay for the solar roads as it is an energy provision resource? I think we both know the answer there. Does Government stump up for this innovation? They are pleading poverty so, again, think on. Does the motorist and homeowner pay? Almost certainly.

Colas is currently conducting final tests and, together with the French government, is hopeful of starting installation of Wattway in the coming months. Solar roads, eh? In my experience if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I suspect the road surfacing crews can breathe easy, we’ll be needing them for a while yet.