GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — When you think of metro Atlanta roads, you think of our notorious traffic. But one stretch of road in Gwinnett County is bucking the trend and is something out of the future.
In Peachtree Corners, there is a “Curiosity Lab” where scientists can test new road technology – such as an autonomous vehicle testing grounds, with a solar array installed on the roadway.
This is the first one anywhere in the country on a city street.
“Just been able to flatten it and increase the durability so can put weight on it,” said Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson.
The solar road has been tested already in Georgia, at a welcome center on Interstate 85 in Troup County.
It’s part of “The Ray,” a nonprofit using that 18 miles of interstate as a living lab to test sustainable energy in the public right of way.
“Great place to create a solar field without having to cut down trees, because it already exists. The more technology and innovation that comes from this, one day might see all the roadway right here are solar fields,” Johnson said.
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Peachtree Corners is partnering with “The Ray” and manufacturer to test the solar panels to see how much power they generate and their durability.
Electricity from the road feeds a stand-alone electric vehicle charging station.
The city is also installing much quicker charging stations at their town center.
“Normally, it takes five to seven hours to charge on an empty battery. In these you can charge in 40 minutes,” Johnson said.
The largest fast D.C. charging site in the metro includes 12 from Tesla and four more for other EVs.
The super chargers, once seen only along interstates, can now be used to drive business.
“Now they’re seeing they need these destination charging centers. So, we put this in our town center where there’s our retail. They can charge while they go eat lunch, charge while they go shop,” Johnson said.
The idea with the solar road is to eventually expand the use, where you could use the actual pavement to power street lights.
Cox Media Group