Wattway - Solar road to the future
Ever since its foundation, Colas has paid special attention to innovation and progressive technologies. After five years of joint research, the company’s Technology Campus (CST) and the French National Institute for Solar Energy presented a patent that could revolutionise the applications of solar power.
WattWay is a thin photovoltaic – more simply known as solar – panel, which is capable of generating clean, renewable energy once installed onto the road surface, while not restricting traffic on the road in any way. The new technology was revealed at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change held in Paris in October 2015, where WattWay was presented with the Climate Solutions Award.
The photovoltaic cells of the WattWay panels are embedded into layers of resin and various polymers, which enable solar energy to be harvested, yet make the units highly durable. Cells absorb solar energy through a very thin polycrystalline silicon layer, thus converting sunlight into electric power. On the side facing the pavement, the panels are connected to the module containing ingress protection elements.
WattWay units are only a few millimetres thick, but are characterised by high durability and skid resistance. The panels can be installed onto the surfaces of existing roads, parking lots and bike paths, avoiding the necessity for re-designing or re-building the infrastructure. WattWay could revolutionise real-time traffic management, automatized vehicle control, the in-motion charging of electric cars, or could become the first step towards a new type of “smart” road.