The idea of Solar Roadways, which can pay for themselves via the electricity they generate appears to be powered by the collective will of the People as well as the Sun.
Solar Roadways Project Raises over 200% of their Funding Goal
A crowd sourced project proves immensely popular that over 45,000 individuals contributed to the project, and were willing to put up over 2 million dollars to see that a 1 million dollar solar powered parking lot prototype was completed.
Scott and Julie Brusaw a couple from Idaho with a vision to create Smart Solar Powered Roads (SolarRoadways.com) to help power cities and Electric Cars.
The idea of Solar Roadways has also previously been supported by winning awards, publicity via Ted Talks and celebrities such as George Takei that tweeted on May 24th of his support to the 1.2 million people following him on Twitter.
Video: Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways!
The Smart Solar Roadways and parking lots envisioned are modular in design and thus can be deployed in financially manageable stages to fit the budget of any project be it a: sidewalk, parking lot, roadway, or sport court.
The smart electric solar roadways can be used for much more than just transportation, they could easily become part of smart grid electric network, used to channel storm water and eliminate the need for overhead: power, telephone wires, and internet fiber-optic cable.
The Smart Solar Roadway is made of super strong tempered glass hexagon pavers. Advantages: Silicon (sand) is relatively abundant and cheap. The material can be heated and treated to become a form of tempered bullet proof like glass, much harder and longer lasting than asphalt roads, which can support more than 220,462 lbs (100 metric tons), about three to four times the weight of typical commercial 18-wheel trucks or even a fully loaded jumbo jet once the weight is dispersed via the landing gear trucks. Not only is the surface resistant to impact or chipping, but can easily be uniformly textured to provide even more traction than asphalt or concrete for additional safety.
Behind the tempered glass are: solar cells, LEDs, circuit boards, microprocessors, and heating elements.
The heating elements can be switched on when necessary in snow prone regions to keep the solar roadways free of snow and ice, but would be powered from the grid not the solar cells.
The roadway can also be equipped with high intensity LED lights and signage that have the ability to display an unlimited amount of text or graphics. Obviously they can be programed or changed instantly, which can be used to reduce accidents, redirect traffic congestion, reconfigure parking lots or sports areas.
The roadways primary function after transport efficiency is to gather more energy than they use, which can be added to the electric grid and/or to power electric vehicles (EVs).
The Solar Roadway design is a good example of decentralized electric power, much like the internet even if portions are destroyed by extreme weather or terrorists the other parts of the network will continue to operate.
Solar Roads can be used to help eliminate the dependency on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change.
Solar Roadways are also be made of many recycled non-fossil fuel components, unlike the asphalt roads of today, which use quite a bit of petroleum.
Solar Roadways Photo Gallery
The goal of SolarRoadways.com is to build solar road manufacturing facilities in every US state and in every country in the world and replace standard cement or asphalt roads and parking spaces with solar cells that can eventually generate enough electricity to pay for themselves—a superhero like feat that is impossible for conventional roads to duplicate.
The applications of the smart solar roadways include but aren’t limited to:
Bike Paths, Roads, Race Tracks, Playground, Tarmacs, Sports Courts, Parking lots, Walkways, Stadiums, Patios, Sidewalks, Driveways, Courtyards, Pool Decking, Dance Floors etc.
Even Good Ideas will have their Detractors:
The power companies may try to slow down progress of Solar Roadway deployment because they don’t own the smart solar road technology and the new electric roads compete and decentralize electric power generation. In addition those already heavily invested in fossil fuels and current roadwork technology will no doubt resist with an army of professional lobbyists, media and advertising firms.
The End of the Road or the Start of a New One?
At the end of the day the cost per square foot for the Solar Roadway, which is much higher than even the increasing costs of current road materials needs to be compared to the benefits and value of the electric power it can generate, greenhouse gas reductions, the cost of snow removal, etc., before components of the long lasting solar roadway need to be replaced.
Between 2009-2011 the various State Departments Of Transportation (DOTs) spent on average $16.5 billion dollars a year on road repair and another $20.4 billion on new roads, that is quite a bit of money being thrown down the proverbial pothole at least solar roads can pay for themselves eventually, the same can not to be said for asphalt. As Solar Roadway components are modular–repairs can be made in only a fraction of the time it takes for current roadwork, which should save the USA billions in lost productivity that now annually occurs due to road maintenance traffic delays.
Another Issue with Asphalt Roads:
Many parking lots and roads made of asphalt in the USA are still sealed with industrial coal tar wastes which contain cancer-causing chemicals, only a few cites and the state of Washington have banned their use to date. Those cancer causing chemicals get washed by rain to nearby waterways, which spread the contaminants.
Solar Roadways Video by Indiegogo
The Solar Roadways idea has won the following Awards:
1st Place: GE’s Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Grid” in 2010
1st Place: 2011 Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Home”
Video: Solar Roadway TedTalk Part 1
Video: Solar Roadway TedTalk Part 2
Solar Roadways are certainly an idea that is worthy of exploration and further testing so my hat is off to both Scott and Julie Brusaw for their imaginative attempt at making the world a better place. At a minimum it helps get a conversation going comparing the merits of various green solutions such as solar roads verses rooftop solar etc. It is their kind of thinking and action that needs to be encouraged and emulated—especially if there is going to be any hope of taking on such serious issues as national fossil fuel addiction and doing what is necessary to mitigate some of the more extreme issues relating to climate change.
EV of the Year Judge, CNN and Mother Earth News contributor, independent green journalist, photographer, author and sustainability activist that has published over 1000 articles. Mr Burridge’s travels have taken him to over 30 countries and 300+ major cities. He is originally from the USA, but has been residing in Australia for the last six years. Connect to Ken Burridge on: Twitter, facebook, Google+, Linked in or website
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