It’s not exactly clear what the future of roadways or really any of our infrastructure realistically holds, but roadways with solar power could be a big part of it. Last week, one Georgia city gave Americans their first look at this potential future. The city of Peachtree Corners brought the first solar road in the US online as the world looks for greener solutions to energy production.
A solar road is one embedded with solar panels, tough enough to be driven over, to catch the sun’s rays and turn it into usable electricity. These panels come from a French company called Wattway, which is testing solar roads around the world. Its work with Peachtree Corners marks the first time a functioning solar road has graced America. With installation complete, with Wattway’s latest most durable panels, the road will start sucking up the sun’s energy to deploy at electric car charging stations at Peachtree Corners City Hall.
As neat as the technology is, it’s not ready for total primetime; the solar panels fit onto an autonomous vehicle test lane, so there won’t be loads of traffic rolling over the new technology. Nevertheless, it’s incredible to see, and the city realizes it, too. If the solar road proves successful, the city wants to install more panels on sidewalks, bike lanes and more. The goal is to power more of the city’s infrastructure by renewable energy. Today, it’s charging stations. Tomorrow, it could be streetlights or an off-the-grid supply of energy during blackouts.