After five years of groundbreaking research France has opened the world’s first solar road.

The 1km stretch of road in Touruvre-au-Perche, Normandy, harnesses the power of the sun through 2,800 sq m of solar panels, with the goal of generating enough energy to light the streets of the village.

Opened yesterday by the country’s ecology minister, Ségolène Royal, the 5 million euro road is just the first stage in a project planned by the French Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea’s energy transition policy, to lay 1000km of solar roads in France with the capacity to provide energy to millions of its citizens.

A collaboration between transport infrastructure giant Colas and the French National Institute for Solar Energy (INES) produced the Wattway technology: a patented ‘innovation that harvests solar energy on the road surface to produce electricity’.