In 2016 France turned a one-kilometer stretch of roadway into the world’s first solar road. And three years later, the trial project has turned out to be an absolute disaster, French newspaper Le Monde reports.
The photovoltaic panels that made up the 2,800 square meter (just over 30,000 square feet) of road surface have deteriorated beyond recognition, according to the paper. The panels have reportedly started peeling off the road and splintering.
The speed limit even had to be lowered to 70 kmh (43 mph) because of rotting leaves generating a significant amount of noise for nearby residents.
It also never reached the expected 790 kilowatt-hours a day the panels were supposed to generate. At most, the road only produced half of that.
The project may have been doomed from the start. 75 percent of the panels were broken before even being installed back in 2016, according to Daily Caller.
But the idea of having roadways generate solar power is far from dead, according to Business Insider. In the Netherlands, a solar bike lane has fared much better, exceeding the expected energy production. A solar panel road is also being tested near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.
American company Solar Roadways is hoping to turn highways smart using solar panels, sensors and LED lights for traffic warning systems. While they’re expensive, they could generate enough power to heat up enough to at least clear the road of ice and snow.