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May 20, 2014

Sustainable Tech: Solar Powered Roads

Nothing in the world looms more than a problem with power, and we don’t have to look too far to know that. In our own country, power supplies are still highly dependent on power providers who get their source of energy from fossil fuels. I think it’s about time that we put our 21st century imagination and common sense into good use.

Imagine a city that doesn’t depend on the grid for electricity. Imagine the savings every family will have for education, food, and business. Well, imagine no further. There is such a thing that can make this possible.

solar roadways

Apparently, Scott and Julie Brusaw, a couple from Sandpoint, Idaho, USA, has this dream and it’s now making waves all over the world. It’s their Solar Roadways project, which aims to replace our traditional asphalt and concrete roadways with highly resistive solar panels. The panels (which are covered with four square foot glass hexagon panels) are designed to withstand the heaviest of vehicles that may drive on it. They are also textured to encourage tires to grip the surface and eventually help water to run off when it’s raining.

solar roadways 2

The road’s solar panels will obviously generate energy from the sun, which is not only capable of powering the community and nearby communities, but also of charging the electric vehicles that drive above them. The power can also energize embedded heating elements that can melt ice and snow (which is applicable to their region), thus making snowplows obsolete. On top of that, the power that the road will generate is also envisioned to light up yellow LED lights instead of painted road lines. That will make night driving much safer.

Most of you reading this may think that this is a crazy, nutty professor kind of idea. But based on the couple’s findings and experiments, it’s actually working. In fact, it is already boosted by two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. They have also built a parking lot made from the solar panel material that can withstand any weight rendered on it, and at the same time generate electricity.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The project’s goal, which is to ultimately help combat climate change, is a very tangible one and has gone beyond conceptual. The couple knows that to replace every road in the U.S. is a HUGE feat. In fact, they estimate that if the project is successfully installed in all roads, it will have the ability to cut American greenhouse gas production by 75 percent. [1] That leaves us with just 25 percent of the contributors to greenhouse production to worry about.

solar roadways 3

The couple also believes that the roadways could and woul  eventually be able pay for themselves over time because of the fact that they generate power. The Solar Roadways project has been in the works for quite some time. Since 2009, Scott and Julie have already been receiving a contract appropriation from the Federal Highway Administration.

And since the results of that contract were quite positive, they were awarded a follow-up contract in 2011 worth $750,000 to build the prototype parking lot in their hometown in Idaho.

To date, the prototype parking lot is almost finished. It just needs some mastic fillings in between the panels and software for LED patterns that will be placed or programmed on the road. Once this is finished, their prototype solar powered parking lot will be the first in the world.

According to the couple, they want to install a sufficient number of parking lots, sidewalks, driveways etc., first before they feel that ready to move on to roads. But even though they are still in the prototype stage, they already have a lot potential customers waiting for them all over the country and all over the world. They’re just realistically trying to hit and meet their goals first and raise funds through Indiegogo,[2] which includes the hiring of their initial team for marketing and production.

As of press time, the couple has launched a $1 million Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the project. So far, they have raised $213,870.

Julie and Scott Brusaw

Julie and Scott Brusaw

I believe that this project is very feasible in our very own set up given that our roads are much smaller than the US and we get more sun in our part of the world than they do. All we need is just a little support from our extremely rich oligarchical families and maybe our government. And just maybe, we’ll have a shot at something as beautiful and as sustainable as this. It may be expensive but the long-term effects of this kind of endeavor are well worth the return of investment.

NOTE: All artist renditions were done by Sam Corne

 

Photos from Indiegogo and InaGist


[1] http://www.solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml

[2] Indiegogo is the largest global fundraising site & best crowd funding for film, music, gadgets, technology, personal causes, charity, small businesses, gaming etc.

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One Comment on “Sustainable Tech: Solar Powered Roads”

  • myliveupdates.com says December 21, 2017 at 10:38 pm

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