5-19-2014 Solar Roadways: The Future or a Pipe Dream?
The whole concept of solar roadways sounds too good to be true. But is it? Julie and Scott Brusaw are the co-inventors and co-founders of Solar Roadways, and they have been working on the project since 2009. Basically, solar roadways are parking lots, driveways, roads, etc. made out of solar panels. The panels have been rigorously tested for safety and durability, and have proven to be as good or better than asphalt.
Why Solar Roadways are a Big Deal
Would you like to drive on roads that don’t have potholes, don’t need construction every year, roads that don’t have snow or ice on them in the winter, have lines that you can see, among other things? Solar roadways will be able to accomplish all of that. When the panels get damaged, it would literally take just a few minutes for it to be replaced. There are heating elements in the panels to rid the roads of ice and snow, making winter driving a lot safer. There are also LED lights instead of painted lines, and the lights can be programed to changed, like at crosswalks, to alert drivers to pedestrians. They can also be used to alert drivers to deer and other animals on the road, saving lives and insurance money.
What about cost? The production costs of the panels are not yet known, but with the electricity generated, they would pay for themselves. The switch to solar roadways would also be gradual and not overnight. They could also pay for themselves with advertising in parking lots, using the LED lights. And with no major construction needed to repair them, there are savings in both time and money.
Solar roadways would be able to provide enough solar power to power the entire United States, and then some. We could rely solely on a clean energy source, get away from foreign oil, and cut pollution and carbon emissions drastically. And because the solar roadways will be tied into the grid, utility companies won’t need to worry. Another benefit is the decentralization of power generation, which increases national security. It seems like a win from every angle!
The Brusaws are surprisingly realistic about the Solar Roadways project. They have looked into what happens if the panels get dirty, if there are earthquakes, and other scenarios. What about water runoff from melted ice/snow and rain?
A solution had to be found to remove or relocate the runoff water. We consulted with some water and forestry experts on the matter. We learned that if we could move water just 200 miles, then we could virtually eliminate any drought conditions in the U.S. In our research, we also started to learn about of the damage caused by contaminated stormwater entering our waterways.
Looking at the numbers and research, it seems that there really aren’t any downsides to changing our roads. It will still be some time before every situation can be looked at, but it looks very promising in terms of safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.
More and more solar roadways are looking like the future, and less like a pipe dream. Please check out the Solar Roadways FAQ and website if you have any questions that haven’t been covered!