The nation's first overlaid driveable solar roadway defies stereotypes about the South being the land of backward-looking solar critics.
The Ray, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and international infrastructure innovator Colas have partnered to bring the world’s first trafficable solar roadway to the United States. Wattway, which debuted in France in 2015, has selected The Ray as its first partner outside of France to beta test the company’s groundbreaking drive-over solar panel technology. Fifty square meters of solar paving are being installed this week at the Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point, GA, at mile marker one of The Ray, near the Georgia-Alabama state line.
“New technologies are coming to market that can make our highways the safest driving routes in the world, while at the same time making them useful in generating clean, renewable energy,” said Harriet Langford, president of The Ray. “The Ray is partnering with the Georgia DOT to make our stretch of highway a living lab where we can pilot some of these promising technologies so that together we can influence the transformation of our transportation infrastructure to be safer, to generate energy and to contribute to the economy.”
A novel technology, Wattway is a system of solar panels installed on the road’s surface that is not only safe and durable, but also generates energy from the sun when not obscured by cars or trucks. The thin, heavy-duty, skid-resistant photovoltaic pavers can be applied directly over existing paving, eliminating the need to remodel or build new road infrastructure. The clean energy generated by the Wattway beta site in West Point will help to power the Georgia Visitor Information Center.
“I am proud to present our first U.S. trial site that has come to fruition thanks to The Ray,” said Jean-Charles Broizat, director, Wattway by Colas. “America is a land of innovators and pioneers, and this project is the start of a technological and human adventure built on the cornerstone of a strong partnership. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation has created an ambitious road map for sustainable transportation, and Colas has been a road infrastructure expert for almost a century. We are particularly honored to carry out this trial in the United States with The Ray as our partner.”
Drive-over solar panels like Wattway have the potential to feed electricity into the grid to power public lighting and road signals in cities and towns, as well as in remote areas where low population density increases the costs of connecting to the grid. The technology can also provide an alternative energy solution for bike paths, shopping centers, airports, electric vehicle charging stations and other infrastructure.
“This effort exemplifies the spirit and power of collaboration between private industry, philanthropy and government in Georgia, and why our Centers of Innovation are so critically important in making these connections,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Welcoming millions of visitors each year, our Visitor Information Centers serve as a great venue to showcase the state’s innovative technologies related to sustainability.”
“Georgia Department of Transportation is proud to work with The Ray to bring sustainable and transformative innovations like this to transportation,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. “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 Wattway installation joins two other novel technologies onsite at the Visitor Information Center on The Ray, including a solar powered electric vehicle charging station (PV4EV) and WheelRight, a drive-over tire pressure monitoring system that is design to solve the pervasive problem of underinflated tires, which are a safety hazard and contribute to fuel inefficiency. Additionally, The Ray will soon be the site of a highway solar farm capable of generating one megawatt of energy – the first time a state-owned and maintained right-of-way has ever been reimagined for renewable energy generation in Georgia. That first will be made possible in partnership with the Georgia Public Service Commission, Georgia DOT, and the Georgia Power Company.
“We are pleased to be partnering again with The Ray to bring more clean energy to this living laboratory,” said Anthony Coker, vice president of market development at Hannah Solar. “To be part of the design-build team that brings the first Wattway system to North America is indeed a privilege and we are excited to be working at the cutting edge of cleantech in the U.S.”
“Reeves Construction Company is excited to work with our parent company, Colas, to introduce the first installation of Wattway outside of France,” said Robert Ponton, president of Reeves Construction “We take great pride in the partnership established with The Ray and the Georgia Department of Transportation to deliver this new energy solution for the first time in the United States. This project is establishing the State of Georgia as a world leader in roadway and energy innovation.”
About The Ray
The Ray is a proving ground for the evolving ideas and technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure of the future, beginning with the corridor of road that is named in memory of Ray C. Anderson (1934-2011), a Georgia native who became a captain of industry and was recognized as a leader in green business when he challenged his company, Interface, Inc., to pursue zero environmental footprint. Chaired by Ray’s daughter Harriet Langford, The Ray is an epiphany of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. Learn more at www.TheRay.org.
About the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT)
Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Our transportation network connects our interstates, state highways, county roads and city streets. Georgia DOT is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to its citizens and its environment. Learn more at www.dot.ga.gov.
Wattway is a Colas innovation designed to provide a second function to roads by enabling them to produce solar energy. The fruit of five years of joint R&D with the French National Solar Energy Institute, Wattway, which won an award at COP21, has now entered into an experimental phase to determine usages via a series of trial sites. Learn more at http://www.wattwaybycolas.com/en/.
Colas, a subsidiary of the Bouygues Group, is a world leader in the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure, aiming to meet the challenges of mobility, urban development and environmental protection. With 57,000 employees in more than 50 countries on five continents, the Group performs some 80,000 projects each year via 800 construction business units and 2,000 material production units. In 2015, consolidated revenue at Colas totaled 12.0 billion euros (49% outside of France). Net profit attributable to the Group amounted to 234 million euros. Learn more at http://www.colas.com/en/group.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, aligning workforce education and training with in-demand jobs, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a destination for arts and location for film, music and digital entertainment projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development. Learn more at www.georgia.org
Reeves Construction Company has been a key contributor to the infrastructure growth of the Southeast since the company’s founding in Americus, Georgia, in 1955. The company’s broad range of services, coupled with access to the global resources of Colas, allows Reeves to meet the needs of any infrastructure project, ranging from small scale pavement maintenance to large-scale roads, sites and runways. Reeves Construction’s success with public agencies and private companies is based on a foundation of core values and exceptional accomplishments, with an
eye on innovation for the future. Reeves Construction Company is a subsidiary of Colas USA. Learn more at http://www.reevescc.com/.
About Hannah Solar
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Hannah Solar is a full service, NABCEP certified solar integrator dedicated to providing the Southeast with the very best in engineering, products, installation and service of solar arrays, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, energy storage systems and Generac® critical backup generators. Our team is comprised of licensed master electricians in AL, GA, MS, NC, SC and TN, service technicians, project management professionals, business development managers, designers and installers-working together to serve our clients as a reliable and experienced resource in sustainable energy integration. Learn more at http://www.hannahsolar.com/.
Valerie Bennett, Communications Director
The Ray C. Anderson Foundation