Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Solar Roadways: Paving The Way To Energy Freedom?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 27, 2009

Remember when I mentioned the Solar Roadways concept? Imagine — instead of giving up giant sections of our countryside to solar arrays, we could make solar arrays out of already-paved land, namely roads.

It’s getting closer to reality:

Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.

The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which “paint” the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. “detour ahead”). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to “slow down”. There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.

Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.

It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12′ by 12′ Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we’ve ever used as a nation – almost enough to power the entire world.

This is just so fabulous I can hardly wrap my mind around it.

8 Responses to “Solar Roadways: Paving The Way To Energy Freedom?”

  1. phastphil said

    How about “solar parking lots”? I believe it would be much easier and cheaper to do.

    • Actually, the very first Solar Roadway panels will be installed in the company’s parking lot, which will allow them to go off-grid. So they are thinking of doing solar parking lots and sidewalks as well as roads.

  2. MEC said

    I can see solar parking-garage roofs, driveways, patios…. sidewalks?

    • Oh, yes, sidewalks too.

      The beauty is that in the vast majority of cases, we’re talking about space that’s already been paved, so we wouldn’t be sacrificing fresh land to a wind turbine or a solar-panel farm. Plus, you could have electric charging stations spaced every few hundred feet, so running out of juice even on a rural highway would be a minor inconvenience and not a life-threatening event.

  3. anon said

    Of course in California, the freeway traffic jams will put paid to that :)

    What kind of maintenance costs are embedded in this approach, though?

  4. […] by Phoenix Woman on February 13, 2010 I’ve written in the past about the Solar Roadways concept. Well, thanks to a $100,000 grant from the US Department of […]

  5. […] are some very innovative solutions to our renewable energy […]

  6. […] certainly would be. I’ve been following the Solar Roadways people for a while now, and it’s getting closer to reality with each passing […]

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