New Solar Panel Road Opens in France

February 28, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. ample / ˈæm pəl / (adj.) – sufficient or more than enough
Example: The new irrigation system gave the farms an ample supply of water.

2. cost-efficient / ˈkɔst ɪˈfɪʃ ənt / (adj.) – giving satisfying results without costing too much resources
Example: Our department’s projects are very cost-efficient.

3. hail / heɪl / (v.) – to praise or commend
Example: Because of her excellent performance, she was hailed as the next big star of her generation.

4. harness / ˈhɑr nɪs / (v.) – to control something to make use of it effectively
Example: They harnessed the wind’s power through turbines to produce electricity.

5. eco-friendly / ˈi koʊ ˈfrɛnd li / (adj.) – not harmful to the environment
Example: Retail companies should use eco-friendly packaging.


Read the text below.
Normandy has become the site of a new solar technology innovation.

A solar panel road, aptly named Wattway, was inaugurated by the country’s Ecology Minister last December. The road stretches for one kilometer and is covered with 2,800 square meters of electricity-producing solar panels.

Wattway will be monitored during a test period of two years. During this period, authorities will observe if it can produce ample energy to light the streets of a village with 3,400 residents.

Critics, however, are skeptical about whether the move was cost-efficient. Some people have pointed out that despite being hailed an innovation, the solar panel road was still a very costly project. Maintaining a solar panel road costs a lot of money, considering that it is not very efficient in producing electricity.

According to experts, solar panel roads can produce less electricity than panels installed on roofs and other structures tilted toward the sun. Concerns about the road’s safety and its ability to accommodate heavy vehicles have also been raised.

Despite numerous issues concerning solar panel roads, France is not the first country to experiment with the idea. Prior to Wattway, a solar bicycle lane was already introduced in the Netherlands. The lane is expected to produce electricity that can sustain three households.

Scientists are constantly innovating ways to harness solar power in an attempt to generate electricity in a more eco-friendly way. Unlike fossil fuels, solar energy comes from a renewable source, which means that it can be used repeatedly without worry that it will run out. Solar panels would best benefit places with no access to electricity, and they have been used in remote places and even in outer space.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that opening the solar panel road was a good idea? Why or why not?
·         Aside from roads and roofs, in what other places or structures can solar panels be installed?

Discussion B

·         What other sources of energy would you like scientists to explore in the future?
·         Would you like your government to try alternative energy sources even if they are expensive? Why or why not?

February 28, 2017