Georgia’s Peachtree Corners is pitching itself as the nation’s “first smart city environment powered by real-world infrastructure and next-generation connectivity,” and that may not be press release hype. This week the city unveiled a solar roadway system that will generate energy for a solar-powered EV charging station located at city hall. This is the first road surface-powered solar panels to be activated in a United States city.
Where? The solar roadway is located in a section of Technology Parkway’s autonomous vehicle test lane and was provided to the city through a partnership with The Ray, a nonprofit living laboratory and proving ground located along an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 spanning between LaGrange and the Georgia/Alabama state line.
How much? The new system at Peachtree Corners will produce more than 1,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually for a Level 2 EV charger at city hall at no cost to EV motorists. The charger is also equipped with an energy storage system for nighttime charging.
Who did it? The Wattway solar roadway panels, manufactured by French transportation innovator Colas Group in partnership with the French National Solar Energy Institute, were engineered to be more durable and efficient – resulting in a 21 percent performance increase over previously deployed panels. The solar roadway was implemented through a partnership with The Ray, a proving ground for the evolving ideas and technologies aimed at transportation infrastructure.
“We’re excited to have been working with The Ray to install the country’s first road surface solar panels manufactured by Wattway, within our one-of-a-kind autonomous vehicle lane,” said Brandon Branham, chief technology officer and assistant city manager of Peachtree Corners. “While this new form of 100-percent green, renewable energy will begin with supplying power to an EV charging station, our vision is to begin to power more existing infrastructure across the city, off-grid. We look forward to installing more panels throughout, which may include sidewalks, bike lanes and many more surfaces.”
“We are thrilled to be installing a solar road for the first time in an American city,” said Harriet Anderson Langford, founder and president of The Ray. “Our entire organization, with the help of key corporate partners, is dedicated to advancing the future of transportation infrastructure around the world. We have had lots of success using roadways, as well as unused interstate right-of-way, to generate massive amounts of electricity for EVs. Proving this technology in an environment like Peachtree Corners helps us further demonstrate its effectiveness while moving us toward implementation on a larger scale.”