Wattway, the solar roadway built in France has flopped big time, draining down an investment of USD 5.2 Millions and 2800 photo-voltaic cells, questioning the further construction of such roads.
Science is one subject that everyone feels they have cracked just by understanding the basic laws of nature. No, Science or say Engineering are those subjects where all the theories fail when things start to go the practical and realistic direction. The notions in Engineering work on the basic assumptions that it is the ideal case, but in practicality, the parameters kept aside to bring the best possible results are required to be attributed in order to check the project’s feasibility.
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The roadway was named as Wattway and built against a cost of 5.2 million USD in a small village of France.
Sometimes expensive and novel projects are meant to go all crooked at the end and something similar took place in France. In 2014 the French government initiated a project in association with the company Colas, to build a stretch of road with solar panels. The 5.2 Million $ project was sanctioned for a road in a small village of Normandy, with an idea to deliver electricity to the village produced with zero operational expenditure. The plan heard like the absolute dilemma of Nicolas Tesla that everyone in the world these days wants to serve. The road built from solar panels was coated with resins and silicones, to protect the perilous, expensive panels which were vulnerable to the force exerted by the tyres of the moving vehicles. However, the road was built in the year 2016.
Now in 2019, just after 2 and a half year from the date of completion of the project, it has started to fall apart. A part of the road around 100m long has to be removed, as the level of damage surpassed the extent to repair. The fixed panels cannot be moved, thus they retrieve direct sunlight for a very short duration of the daytime and the leaves and dust that fall on it and get stuck, further deteriorate the results. So the project is generating only 50% of the calculated power output. The noises produced by the vehicles operating on the panel-equipped road is so loud, in comparison to the conventional tarmac, the speed limit has been reduced to 45mph. And the government might need to rebuild it again since the resin coating has started to degrade and is coming off from the leftover section.
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2800 photo-voltaic panels were assembled and paired together to build this road.
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All this sounds disastrous for a 5.2 Million dollar project, doesn’t it? The engineering team would have surely conducted a feasibility study on what would be the ROI of this project, but I believe sometimes the government takes up the challenges to another level by approving such projects to gain, “World’s First” tag. In engineering and technology, the projects read super-efficient on paper but the actual results are polar to the expectations, the assumptions made while drafting the blueprint and evaluating the results are to be blamed in such cases. Falling apart projects like these can prove to be a fine example for case studies for governments, administration, and companies when coming up with novel projects. Our Indian governance has also taken such a bold move in the direction to make India the world’s first BS-6 or Euro-VI only country, which does sound potentially feasible and environment-friendly, but the FAME-I and FAME-II policies are a tad bit confusing and misaligned, we believe. We’ll elaborate on the EV policies soon, till then if you have any suggestion, please pen them down in the comment.
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