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.
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: