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Solar Roadways Coming To A Street Near You

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 1 Comment

We recently spoke about solar panels being used on park benches, innovations in solar panel usage have come a long way from just applying them to rooftops. You might have seen a new video online about solar roadways that was published back in May.

It shows how a husband wife team propose to  create solar powered roadways that would generate huge amounts of energy to use throughout the country, and with over 17.3 million YouTube views to date, it’s created quite a buzz.

What are the advantages of bringing solar panels on the roads?

The most dominant answer being that you would have a tremendous amount solar panel surface to absorb solar energy and be able to use it for many different things, such as powering the homes that are next to the road.

In the U.S. alone, over $160 billion is lost each year from decreased productivity from people sitting in traffic due to road maintenance. Sometimes road damages (like potholes for example) go unnoticed by the city until people begin to complain. In contrast, each of the solar panels installed in the ground contain their own microprocessor which can communicate with the surrounding panels. If one of the panels stops working, the surrounding panels can instantly transmit a message .

On a MOHS hardness scale (used to define hardness in materials), the tempered glass that would be used in solar panels also has almost 5 times the hardness level than the asphalt that is currently used on roads today. So not only can the solar roadway panels communicate instantly of an issue, but it can also withstand much higher levels of impact.

Will it be affordable?

This is the key concern, and probably the only reason that solar panels are not on roadways today.

The pioneer company leading this innovation, Solar Roadways, noted that if they could make their 12’ x 12’ solar panels for under $10,000 each, then it could break even with asphalt expenses.

What are some neat innovations it brings along?

With solar roadways, you can expect heated roads in the winter. The solar panels in the road can turn the energy it absorbs into heat, to melt snow and ice from the roads, making for a much safer drive. The solar roadways can also provide interactive signals in the roads that can change instantly. For example, a handicapped parking spot that has not been used in hours can instantly turn into a regular parking spot, and back with the push of a button.

Interactive Solar Roadways

The future of solar roads and highways, when can we expect the start? Are there any problems with solar roadways?

Solar Roadways has recently started a Indiegogo funding campaign to raise $1 million, and has already doubled that, raising a total of $2.2 million. There are a few test locations utilizing the technology, and Solar Roadways hopes to further its research to create commercially available solar roadways in the near future.

With regards to any problems, yes there are some issues that will need to be tackled when the roads start changing to solar. Unlike asphalt which is a basic element, the solar roadways will include technology that could be prone to hacking, so security will be one of the top priorities to perfect. Another issue is the shape of the roads themselves, currently Solar Roadways is testing the solar panels on flat surfaces, but future panels will need to be able to adapt to non-flat roads like hills and curves.

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