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Solar Roads

solar roads green energy

Our path towards the future is being paved with green technologies, literally! Instead of using asphalt, which is made from petroleum and just makes our roads smoother to drive on, what if we could make roads capable of harnessing energy? That’s the idea that Scott Brusow, founder of Solar Roadways, is currently looking into.

solar roads green energy

Let’s imagine the number of roads, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks that are out there in the world being bathed with sunlight – that’s a lot of clean, potential energy for our homes. Solar Roadways, a company based out of Idaho, conservatively estimates that if every paved surface in the United States was fitted with solar panels, it could almost supply electricity to the entire world (the numbers are right here [link fixed, thanks Kirk!] if you’re interested). This sounds like a great idea but why aren’t we paving our roads with solar panels now then? For one, there isn’t a solar panel out there that can withstand the harsh environmental conditions and heavy loads that asphalt so superbly does. In addition, light must be able to reach the panels, so snow or dirt has to be cleared off somehow. And of course, there’s the cost factor – these solar panels need to be cheap as asphalt to make it feasible; asphalt is about $16 a square foot. There are definitely a lot of challenges, but let’s not lose all hope just yet. Solar Roadways was recently awarded a contract from the US Department of Energy to build a prototype, so it’s a good step towards the solar road. If Scott is able to overcome these engineering challenges, it will certainly revolutionize the world. I’m definitely rooting for Scott and his solar road! You can root for him too here.

Check out this video from Scott Brusaw:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

via Techtified

solar roads green energysolar roads green energy

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Comment
  • Lone

    A good effort in theory and hopefully something constructive derives from it but overall it is unnecessarily grand scheme. Better to keep all of the same infrastructure that would be required in this method exactly where it needs to be, the population centers, where the byproduct is used and the system can be maintained. Make every roof or predominantly sun facing surface on every structure in every city solar ready.

    Now if you can develop an overwhelmingly positive plan for profit and self-sustaining industry that will sway the powers that be away from their established investments…

  • Doiee

    Great concept, as there are an endless supply of roads around the world, and changing them to solar panels wouldn't change the appearance of places like panels on every rooftop etc.

    But what about oil and rubber that will eventually cover the panels. There would need to be constant maintenance. Another major factor would be the safety or road users. What would the traction be like on one of these roads?

  • http://www.vidafine.com ben

    even the asphalt roads need constant repair, and solar grade silicon aint cheap… solar panels don't have a positive roi until years after installation. how practical is this?

  • Will

    yeah, there are definitely a lot challenges that need to be overcome from an engineering pov. Doiee, you're definitely spot on about the maintenance of these roads which would add a considerable overhead. i do believe scott brusow did mention using self-cleaning materials – much like a lotus leaf that cleans itself after the rain. Again that is only one potential solution but i would imagine maintenance would still need to be done especially with the abuse roads normally take from vehicles and nature. as for how often would depend on the design and the durability of the materials.

    as for solar grade silicon, not sure what the costs are exactly, but the last i heard they were going down with economies of scale and of course this would be a long term investment. I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me.

    There is definitely a lot of work and a lot to think about, and it won't exactly be something that happens overnight. But if possible, when the technology and the design do become feasible and it makes sense from an overall costs perspective, then it's only a matter of just swapping asphalt for solar panels when it comes time to maintaining our existing roads. sounds simple eh? =)

  • Will

    yeah, there are definitely a lot challenges that need to be overcome from an engineering pov. Doiee, you're definitely spot on about the maintenance of these roads which would add a considerable overhead. i do believe scott brusow did mention using self-cleaning materials – much like a lotus leaf that cleans itself after the rain. Again that is only one potential solution but i would imagine maintenance would still need to be done especially with the abuse roads normally take from vehicles and nature. as for how often would depend on the design and the durability of the materials.

    as for solar grade silicon, not sure what the costs are exactly, but the last i heard they were going down with economies of scale and of course this would be a long term investment. I could be wrong, so feel free to correct me.

    There is definitely a lot of work and a lot to think about, and it won't exactly be something that happens overnight. But if possible, when the technology and the design do become feasible and it makes sense from an overall costs perspective, then it's only a matter of just swapping asphalt for solar panels when it comes time to maintaining our existing roads. sounds simple eh? =)

  • ELBSeattle

    I had this idea about 8 years ago. I was taking a road trip during the summer and I remarked that someone should figure out how to make asphalt with photovoltaic cells. No trees to block the sun, and we have thousands of miles of highways. I'm glad that someone is developing this.

  • kirk

    the link for solar Roadways the numbers is broken, can anyone fix this, im very interested

  • http://www.vidafine.com ben

    of course we can! thx for pointing that out. looks like they changed their site… but here is the new location for the numbers: http://solarroadways.com/numbers.html

  • Cameron

    A great idea but what about instead of destroying all the roads and restarting, you simply replace the rural roads or those that are located mostly in deserts. The low population density would reduce the amount of damage on the road and would not affect the city's traffic patterns.

    A very expensive idea but within ten years silicon will hopefully be a bit cheaper or at least a similar photovoltic metal will be able to be artificially created. In our plans to pave for 'third world' countries and rebuilding efforts like Haiti and Chile, why don't we consider putting a prototype of these in to see if they are even conceivable.

    The idea of putting the panels on the roof is good in theory but not everyone wants that on their roof and it would alter a large part of the appearance of the building. When the panels were installed at the Vatican there were hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to hide the panels to prevent them from damaging the view. Too expensive and a possible turn off for architects and engineers.

  • Tetsuo_shima57

    Power the entire world. Ha ! And how much energy do U need to extract silicium and melt it to create Ur panels. U’ll never get enough energy back compare to what U consume to get it done!
    Go nuclear dude, U’ll never get better efficiency that light speed (e=mc2)