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Updated 23 Jun 2018

A tech company is building roads. Could this be your next disruptor?

A stretch of road in France has been constructed using solar panels by a telecommunications specialist, for renewable energy purposes. Is your construction company prepared to be disrupted by these technologists? 

Nicole Crampton, 03 March 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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A village in France now boasts the world’s first solar panel road. This means that a telecoms company is effectively making abetterversion of your primary source of income – building roads.

You’ll need to increase your technical expertise in the field of solar roads so that when this technology eventually comes to South Africa in the fast-approaching future, you are the one who can construct it for customers.

Related: 3 Refreshing ways to market your construction company to grow revenue


A 1km route in France has been outfitted with solar panels to generate environmentally-friendly electricity. The telecommunications company that constructed it is currently the leader in this method of construction, and it believes it could potentially offer this solution to the rest of the world, specifically South Africa, which is known for its sunny disposition and its need for inexpensive energy access.

Solar roads are perfect for South Africa. On average, we’re exposed to 220W/m2 of sun a year compared to 150 W/m2 for other parts of the world. The challenge for your construction business is that you need to offer this technology before the telecommunications company discovers what a lucrative market South Africa could be for them.

Here is what you need to know about this solar panel technology before you start upskilling your entire workforce toward building it:

1. Is it efficient?

Solar panels laid on flat surfaces are less efficient than those that are laid on slopes. You could potentially collaborate with a solar panel manufacturer to create a more efficient version, which will allow you to increase your market share in this sector.

Having a more efficient model will then give your construction business a competitive edge against this telecommunications conglomerate when it decides to further its reach into South Africa.

2. What the critics have to say

Speculators say that the solar panels are not a cost-effective use of money. Marc Jedliczka, vice-president of Network for Energetic Transition (CLER) says: “It’s without doubt a technical advancement, but in order to develop renewable energy there are other priorities for this gadget namely that it is very expensive and we don’t know if it works.”

Related: Why ‘net-zero’ buildings might become the trend of the future in South Africa

Jean-Louis Bal, president of renewable energy union SER, said: “We have to look at the cost, the production [of electricity] and its lifespan.”

As this is only a two-year trial to determine maintenance, energy generation and cost, there’s still some time for you and your company to get to grips with new ways of constructing roads. If you’re not laying the actual road with panels, perhaps you should consider other smart solutions that incorporate solar tech – like solar charging stations for electric cars and trucks.  


  • A telecoms company is arguably making a better version of your primary source of income.
  • South Africa is perfect for this concept as it experiences 220 W/m2 of sun a year compared to 150 W/m2 for other parts of the world.
  • This is a two-year year trial, but the race is on and companies around the world will be competing to invest a better version of this technology and capture your market.
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Nicole Crampton

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