A small US-based company called Solar Roadways is developing a solar road surface that, if installed nationwide, has the potential to produce more renewable energy than the entire country uses. In fact, theyâ€™ve actuallyÂ already developed a working prototype thatâ€™s been installed in a parking lot,Â and theyâ€™re now crowdsourcing funds in order to tweak the design
A small US-based company called Solar Roadways is developing a solar road surface that, if installed nationwide, has the potential to produce more renewable energy than the entire country uses.
In fact, theyâ€™ve actuallyÂ already developed a working prototype thatâ€™s been installed in a parking lot,Â and theyâ€™re now crowdsourcing funds in order to tweak the design and moveÂ towards production.
Solar Roadways, which wasÂ started by Scott and Julie Brusaw in 2006, designed and developed hexagonalÂ glass solar panels studded with LED lights that could be installed on a varietyÂ of surfaces such as roads, pavements and playgrounds. These panels would moreÂ than pay for themselves and would benefit both businesses and homeowners as theÂ energy generated from driveways and parking lots could be used to powerÂ buildings, and any excess can be sold back to the grid.
The panels also containÂ heating elements to melt ice and snow so are ideal in winter conditions, andÂ LEDs to make road lines and signs which have been previously shown to reduceÂ night time accidents. The surface could also be used to charge electricÂ vehicles as oppose to fossil fuels, and future technology could even allow forÂ charging whilst driving via mutual induction panels. Amazingly, the team alsoÂ found that car headlights can produce energy in the panels, so cars drivingÂ around at night would be producing some electricity.
A glass surface may soundÂ fragile, but the prototypes have been extensively tested and were found to beÂ able to withstand even the heaviest trucks. Recycled materials can also be usedÂ to produce the panels; the prototypes were constructed using 10% recycledÂ glass.
All of the panels will beÂ wired up, so faults can be easily detected and repaired. Their team has alsoÂ designed a place to stash power cables, called â€œCable Corridorsâ€, which wouldÂ allow easy access by utility workers. Furthermore, they also believe that theseÂ corridors could be used to house fiber optic cables for high-speed internet.
The team has done someÂ calculations; thereâ€™s approximately 31,000 square miles of usable surfaces inÂ the US, and if all of these were covered the Solar Roadways system couldÂ produce over three times the electricity that is used by the entire country.Â Thatâ€™s an incredible potential that could lead to a huge decrease in dependenceÂ on foreign oil. It would also cut CO2 emissions by a considerable amount.
Obviously,Â this project isnâ€™t going to be cheap. Solar Roadways are hoping to raise $1Â million on their indiegogo page so that they can hire engineers to make finalÂ modifications and move from prototype to production. They think that if theyÂ reach their target they should be able to begin installing projects at the endÂ of the year.