Solar photovoltaic technology is getting cheaper, more efficient and more resilient all the time. Solar road stud markers are widely applied. In France, the world' s first solar roadway, dubbed WattWay, opened in 2016. A project in Sandpoint, Idaho used 30 solar panels, each capable of generating 48 watts, for a total of about 1,440 kilowatts. But the project' s 2016 ribbon-cutting revealed that many of the panels weren' t working, and further reports indicate that the panels haven' t generated nearly their stated nameplate capacity.
Solar Roadways'2015 report of Department of Transportation noted that its panels used about one-third of the electricity they generate to power their built-in LEDs, and that its heating elements could consume its entire generation capacity. It doesn' t mention that snow would be covering the panels at the moments they' d be expected to generate their heat. It also doesn' t mention that its solar power road stud markers installation would be sited in a public walking area, meaning that its panels haven' t yet faced the critical test for any would-be solar roadway: Can it be driven on? Eric Weaver, research engineer at the Federal Highway Administration, told Greentech Media in 2014 that the biggest unknown was safety. Asphalt — tar and gravel, essentially — is well suited for giving rubber tires the traction they need to stay safely on the road. “We can' t say that it would be safe for roadway vehicular traffic" to replace that asphalt with silicon-coated solar panels, he noted.
Department of Transportation also hadn' t been able to field-test whether the panels could stand up under vehicular traffic, Weaver noted. "Further field-traffic evaluation is needed to determine safety and durability performance."Solar road stud markers should be further developed to keep step the changing situations.