If you’ve ever seen a raw egg sizzle on the sidewalk on a sunny day, then you probably know that our roads can collect a lot of heat. With 4.09 million miles of road and countless parking lots in the United States absorbing the sun’s rays all day long, clearly there’s a lot of solar energy that’s going to waste in this country.
With solar panels going on everything from cell phone chargers to the roof of the White House, an Idaho couple wondered, why not put them on America’s enormous stretches of asphalt as well?
Scott and Julie Brusaw are hoping to re-pave America’s roads and parking lots with their Solar Roadways project. These solar panels can generate enough juice to power our cities, plus withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds), provide illumination for safer night-time driving, and defrost snow and capture water.
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As The Escaptist writes, the inventors claim that a nationwide system of Solar Roadways could produce enough clean, renewable energy that it could power the whole country and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent.
If you think this concept seems a little out-there, their project (now in its eighth year) has already received $750,000 in funding from the Federal Highway Administration. The Solar Roadways team is wrapping up the construction of their prototype parking lot that’s right outside their Idaho lab and are now seeking an additional $1 million on crowdfunding site Indiegogo for commercial production.
According to their website, the super strong glass-covered panels have been tested in civil engineering laboratories across the country for traction, load testing, and impact resistance — exceeding all requirements. There’s even a video demonstrating that these panels can support the weight of a tractor.
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Solar Roadways could help fight not just climate change, but unemployment, too. The Brusaws claim that the implementation of their concept on a grand scale could create thousands of jobs in the U.S. and around the world. “It could allow us all the ability to manufacture our way out of our current economic crisis,” their website boasts.
Currently, the cost of installation of the Solar Roadways is unknown (the hard numbers should be ready for announcement in July, Wired notes), but the Brusaws say their Solar Roadway — like many renewable energy sources — pays for itself over time.
Let’s hope there’s lots of sunny days ahead in the forecast.