Two years after being proposed US electrical engineer, Scott Brusaw’s system of solar powered roads is in the second prototype stage, which could lead to wide spread use. Scott’s idea is to cover highways and other roadways with photo-voltaic panels that would collect energy and feed it into a decentralized power grid. If successful, these panels could generate enough energy to power the entire country. Scott is currently raising funds via an IndieGoGo campaign to begin production.
Solar Roadways, as the project is called, is a modular paving system of solar panels, which can withstand loads of over 250,000 pounds. The full size hexagon modular units would be fitted with 36-watt solar panels and have 69-percent surface coverage by solar cells. The Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, sidewalks, bike paths, driveways, playgrounds and more. Homes and businesses can then be connected to this energy grid via driveways and parking lots, and have all their energy needs met. According to Scott’s calculations, nationwide adoption of his Solar Road Panels would produce over 3 times more energy than is used in the US. These calculations are based on the first prototype of the system, which they built on a stretch of road in Idaho.
Apart from energy collection, the roads would also have a number of additional benefits, such as heating to melt the ice and snow, LED lighting to show the road signs and lines, and more. Electric cars could also be charged in the solar panel covered parking lots. The proposed system is modular, meaning that, among other things, in case of damage to one of the panels, only that panel can be replaced.
To get rid of overhead cables the Solar Roadways will also be fitted with so-called Cable Corridors, where fiber optic cables could be installed, which would bring high speed internet to everyone. The project will also tackle the problem of stormwater, which is responsible for more than 50% of the pollution in U.S. waterways. A special section of the Cable Corridors in the roads will be fitted for storing, treating, and transporting stormwater. In addition to that, they also plan to use recycled and repurposed materials as much as possible. For the prototype parking lot they used recycled glass as ten percent of the aggregate in the base layer.
The power grid in the US is in need of modernization and covering the roads with solar panels seems like a great idea. If you want to learn more about the project, visit the IndieGoGo page or the Solar Roadways website.