Solar Roadways

Have You Seen Solar Roadways? It’s the Next HUGE Thing

I came across this video recently presenting an entirely novel, brilliant idea for solar powered roads that would generate energy, hugely reduce America’s carbon footprint, and make roads safer—just to name a few of the idea’s many benefits.  Invented by a husband and wife in Washington, the Brusaws, Solar Roadways consist of hexagonal solar panels are covered with tempered glass and equipped with microprocessors and LED lights. These interlocking panels would replace roads, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways—basically any concrete or asphalt surface you can think of.

What’s made the Solar Roadways project the most popular Indiegogo campaign in history is not only the fact that Solar Roadways would produce three times the energy that the United States currently uses while reducing greenhouse gases by 75%, but also that the roads have ingenious safety features that would make driving safer, would lower energy costs, and would boost our economy by creating jobs and literally generating capital. The technology is simple enough to understand: interlocking solar panels replace roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc. and generate electricity. Underground cable tunnels would run beneath roads allowing workers to easily perform maintenance without shutting down highways for months. When a panel is damaged (which should happen only rarely as the double-laminated glass covering the panels can withstand 250,000 lbs.), it can be popped out and replaced without an entire section of road needing maintenance. Glass-topped roads sound slippery and dangerous, but two safety features actually make them safer than the asphalt and concrete currently in use.

First, panels heat up to temperatures just above freezing in colder climates to melt snow and ice on roads which will help prevent accidents as well as eliminate costly snow removal. The underwater channels that house power lines also have a chamber for runoff that diverts the polluted melted snow and rainwater away from streams and soil and into water treatment facilities—a huge added eco-bonus. Second, the glass’ texture has shown through friction testing to be skid resistant: a car moving at 80 mph can slam on its breaks on a Solar Roadway without sliding.  LED lights within the panels can be programmed to mark traffic lines, bike lanes, and parking spaces, but that’s just the beginning. Because displays can be quickly and easily changed, warning signs on roads can be updated in real time to help prevent accidents. Additionally, panels are pressure sensitive and light up ahead of drivers to signal that an animal or person is in the road, or that a boulder or other obstruction is ahead.

Those who worry that eradicating asphalt and our dependence on oil would destroy jobs and the economy can take comfort in the fact that this entirely new schema would require thousands of jobs that could easily replace all those eliminated and would hugely boost the manufacturing industry. Solar Roadways are not cheap, but they pay for themselves many times over by using an essentially infinite source of power that would generate incredible amounts of capital—something our economy sorely needs. By choosing this technology we also invest in our children’s generation by providing them with cleaner air and resourceful technology. Julie and Scott Brusaw invented the technology behind solar roadways in 2006. They’ve since created prototypes with funding from the Federal Highway Administration and have received $1.9 million from backers on Indiegogo to move forward with production on a larger scale. Practically speaking, implementation of this technology will likely begin with private driveways, roads, and parking lots, but the couple (and their millions of supporters) believes that once people see solar roadways in action the sky is the limit. Their grand vision for this technology includes providing aid to those hit by tsunamis and earthquakes by airdropping solar panels so that rescue workers who wouldn’t otherwise have access to power could provide medical care and distribute food. Third world countries without practical access to electricity could use the panels to create clean drinking water and energy to power lights and computers for education. This technology is so dynamic and innovative that all of its uses certainly haven’t been explored.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Solar Roadways Indiegogo campaign has been extended through June 20th, and supporters can donate here. The money generated through this campaign will be used to hire engineers and scale up production of Solar Roadways. The economy, our climate, and our communities are all desperately in need of smart, resourceful technology that is practical while looking towards future needs. Luckily, we’ve found it. The hard work is done; all we need to do now is make sure Solar Roadways don’t remain a prototype.

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2 Responses to Have You Seen Solar Roadways? It’s the Next HUGE Thing

  1. Anonymous June 8, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

    The solar panels will then offer electricity that you can use outdoors and indoors. When you begin making use of the solar panels, you can now enjoy complimentary electrical power.

  2. Steven Childs June 20, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    The hexagonal shape is genius and glass is very recyclable.

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