Wouldn’t it be amazing if our parking lots and roadways could be made of solar panels? If Scott and Julie Brusaw’s dream comes true, their company, Solar Roadways will transform those pothole ridden roadways, driveways, and parking lots into solar powered surfaces. With two rounds of federal funding and a successful Indiegogo funding of over $2 million dollars, we may see the Solar Roadways. The beauty of these solar powered roads could pay for themselves and get us off the energy hog freeway. (Note, you can still contribute until June 20, 2014.)
What Are Solar Powered Roads?
Watch the short video below which explains the technology behind Solar Roadways.
In a nutshell, solar roadways are made of smart micro-processing interlocking hexagonal solar units. If one unit is damaged, it can be replaced.
In addition, every panel has a series of LEDs in the circuit board which can be programmed to create different configurations. The surface of the units could either light up and warn drivers of children in a crosswalk or deer on the road or alternatively, change a basketball court into a hopscotch playground with a flick of a switch. The possibilities are endless. (The picture above is an artist rendition of downtown Sandpoint, Idaho. Graphic design by Sam Cornett )
Environmental and Financial Aspect:
According to the Company, the roadways could produce over three times the electricity we use in the United States.
“The “lower 48” could produce just about enough electricity to supply the entire world. And once again, remember: these calculations are made with very conservative numbers using north Idaho as a reference point, which is one of the worst case scenarios in the U.S. where latitude is concerned (OK, we have to concede to Alaska!).
The Company further indicates that if all asphalt areas were converted to solar roadways, we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.
“As best we can tell, it is estimated that approximately half (different agencies provide different estimates, but the average is about 50-percent) of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming come from the burning of fossil fuels (primarily coal) to generate electricity. The Solar Roadway therefore has the ability to eliminate half of the greenhouse gases currently being produced.
Another 25-percent comes out of our tailpipes. A Solar Roadway is an electric road that can recharge electric vehicles (EVs) anywhere. We’re talking with companies that make mutual induction plates to charge EVs while they’re driving (the “receiver” plate gets mounted beneath the EV and the “transmitter” plate is installed in the road). The Solar Roadway could charge the EVs while they’re traveling, which would increase their range. With an infrastructure in place that will make EVs finally practical, people would likely start trading in their internal combustion engine vehicles for EVs. Eventually, we’d have eliminated an additional 25-percent of greenhouse gases.”
Additionally, everyone could drive an electric car since it could be re-charged at every parking lot. Both range anxiety and automobile air pollution would no longer exist.
Best yet, in Phase II of the project, the team will explore how ordinary garbage can be use in the internal support structure of the road panels.
Someone pinch me and tell me this isn’t a dream.
Isn’t It Time to Switch from Asphalt?
According to National Asphalt Pavement Association, “the United States has more than 2.6 million miles of paved roads and highways, and 93 percent of those are surfaced with asphalt. ”
Asphalt is made of stone or gravel and a binder of a sticky tar-like substance which is made from petroleum. The NY Times reported in a 2008 article that the price of asphalt has doubled since 2005.
Despite the rising costs of asphalt and continued costly yearly maintenance, the roads, parking lots, and driveways are a heat sinks causing increased energy usages by nearby buildings.
Plus, asphalt roadways are hazardous in the north with freeze thaw conditions causing accidents.
In the north, the panels would have an element that would melt the snow and prevent ice from forming. Therefore, cities could reduce their costs on snow removal as well as reduce the environmental impact of salt usage.
In the Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine article, “Keep Roads on a Low Salt Diet, Roger Bannerman, DNR water resource management specialist states:
“Road salt use is a sleeping giant… The potential for chloride to damage our water systems is more inevitable than climate change.”
Worse yet, low cost fracking brine is being used in some NY counties to de-ice the roadways. This brine could contains toxic substances such as toulene, benezene, and chlorine which could pollute our waterways.
Where to Begin
The Company states that it would start out small with driveways, sidewalks, and parks. It has already built a 12 by 12 prototype.
As of this point, they do not know the cost of the project. However, businesses could generate their own electricity, lease out their parking lot for advertising, and charge people to re-charge their electric vehicles. Even states and the federal government could sell back energy to the grid from roads that they own.
Sounds like a win win to me.
If you have any questions about the project, read the Company’s extensive FAQs. They have endeavored to answer as many questions as they can.
If you are interested in becoming a future customer, send an email HERE to express your interest. There is no obligation to purchase. (I sent an email. I hate my asphalt driveway.)
Join the Conversation:
What do you think of solar roadways?
Thanks to Mary Clare Hunt of In Women We Trust for the tip.