France has opened what it says is the world’s first solar-paneled road — a one-kilometer stretch that is expected to power street lighting
in the village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy. The motorway, which is covered in 30,000 square feet of solar panels, cost $5.2 million to build and will be traveled on by 2,000 cars each day. The company that installed it, French engineering firm Colas, says it has about 100 other solar-paneled road projects underway, both in France and abroad. Critics of the project, however, argue that the Normandy road is not a good investment. Normandy gets only 44 days of strong sunshine each year, according to The Guardian. Solar roadways have been proven less efficient at generating electricity than panels installed on rooftops. France’s environment minister, SÃ©golÃ¨ne Royal, has said she would like one kilometer in every 1,000 kilometers of French highway to be made of solar panels.