In first, road paved with solar panels powers French town

Updated 23 December 2016
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In first, road paved with solar panels powers French town

TOUROUVRE, France: France on Thursday inaugurated the world’s first “solar highway,” a road paved with solar panels providing enough energy to power the street lights of the small Normandy town of Tourouvre.
The one-kilometer (half-mile) “Wattway” covered with 2,800 square meters (30,000 square feet) of resin-coated solar panels was hooked up to the local power grid as Environment Minister Segolene Royal looked on.
“This new use of solar energy takes advantage of large swathes of road infrastructure already in use... to produce electricity without taking up new real estate,” Royal said in a statement.
The minister announced a four-year “plan for the national deployment of solar highways” with initial projects in western Brittany and southern Marseille.
An average of 2,000 cars use the road in Tourouvre each day, testing the resistance of the panels for the project carried out by French civil engineering firm Colas, a subsidiary of construction giant Bouygues.
The idea, which is also under exploration in Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, is that roadways are occupied by cars only around 20 percent of the time, providing vast expanses of surface to soak up the sun’s rays.
Colas says that in theory France could become energy independent by paving only a quarter of its million kilometers of roads with solar panels.
Sceptics are waiting to see whether the panels can withstand the ravages of time and weather, as well as the beating they will take from big trucks.
Solar panels installed on a 70-meter stretch of a cycling lane north of Amsterdam experienced some damage last winter but the problem has been resolved, the project’s company TNO said.
The Wattway project, which has received a state subsidy of five million euros (dollars), began with four pilot sites around France, in parking lots or in front of public buildings, on much smaller surfaces of between 50 and 100 square meters each.
One drawback of the system is that solar panels are more effective when angled toward the sun, typically on slanted rooftops, than when they are laid flat.
And the cost question is far from being resolved. Each kilowatt-peak — the unit of measure for solar energy — generated by Wattway currently costs 17 euros, compared with 1.30 euros for a major rooftop installation.
But Colas hopes to make the cost competitive by 2020, noting that the cost of producing solar energy decreased by 60 percent between 2009 and 2015 according to a French renewable energy association, SER.


Tunisia hosts geosciences conference

On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out. (Shutterstock)
Updated 13 November 2018
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Tunisia hosts geosciences conference

  • On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out

JEDDAH: Tunisia is hosting the first conference of the Arabian Journal of Geosciences (AJGS), which will run until Thursday.
The conference, marking the journal’s 10th anniversary, includes more than 20 prominent speakers, 50 discussion panels, more than 700 international researchers, academics and diplomats, including the Saudi ambassador to Tunisia.
Abdullah Al-Amri, head of the Saudi Society for Geosciences and editor-in-chief of the AJGS, briefed attendees on the journal’s history and achievements.
He also underlined the support it receives from King Saud University and King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST).
Tunisian government representative Khalil Amiri discussed global climate change, its implications on geological changes, and the importance of conducting further research in this area.
He called for educational programs and campaigns to raise awareness about the seriousness of climate change.
On the sidelines of the conference, an exhibition, workshops, specialized training courses and field trips are being carried out.