Georgia Welcome Center on I-85 at Alabama Border Pioneers Solar Panels on Pavement

AASHTO Journal, 22 December 2016

A Georgia welcome center along Interstate 85 at West Point at the Alabama border will test what the Georgia Department of Transportation says is the “first trafficable solar roadway” in the United States, where thin on-pavement solar panels will power the Visitor Information Center.

A news release said 50 square meters of drive-over solar paving was being installed at the welcome center to collect energy whenever vehicles are not driving over them.

It said the novel Wattway technology by the France-based Colas Group is a system (illustrated in the video below) of thin, heavy-duty, skid-resistant photo-voltaic pavers that “can be applied directly over existing paving, eliminating the need to remodel or build new road infrastructure.” A video below shows how it can work.

capitol0816.jpgThat center already boasts a charging station for solar vehicles, and now will operate the first installation of Wattway outside France.

GDOT said it is partnering in the demonstration project with Colas and with a local foundation’s energy innovation unit called The Ray that operates as a proving ground of new technologies in a corridor along that first 18 miles of I-85 in Georgia.

Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry said GDOT is “proud to work with The Ray to bring sustainable and transformative innovations like this to transportation. In addition to the solar-powered electric vehicle charging station installed last year at the welcome center, Wattway – the new solar pavement lane – generates clean energy that powers the welcome center.”

The announcement also said that welcome center now has a WheelRight system, which is a drive-over tire pressure monitoring system designed to detect underinflated tires that can be a safety hazard and reduce fuel efficiency.

And it said The Ray corridor will soon be the site of a “highway solar farm” in the right of way that will be capable of generating one megawatt of energy when completed in three years, through a partnership with the Georgia Public Service Commission, GDOT and Georgia Power Co.

That will mark the first time a state-owned and maintained right of way has been used for renewable energy generation in Georgia, the announcement said.

Here is the Wattway video.

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