I love new technology. When I came across an article describing solar highways, I was instantly intrigued. Solar Roadways is a new invention that would turn America’s roadways, highways and sidewalks into power plants. Our need for foreign oil would be cut by 70 to 100 percent over time. The concept shows that more roads means more power being generated, eventually producing more power than we are using. That would make America an energy seller in the world.
Proceeds from walkways and roadways can be reinvested to pay for additional roads. Imaging a product that pays itself forward. There would be additional benefits as well.
- · No heat wave would make the road surface melt as it does with asphalt. That means a safer place to drive or walk (on the shoulder). No more vehicles and tires being covered with hot tar; that means fewer paint job repairs as well.
- · Current road crew workers would be retrained to build and maintain the new roads.
- · The roads light themselves, no additional street lights needed.
- · LED lights in the solar hexagons would be used to warn drivers of hazards faster than emergency radio broadcasts, given that drivers have the right radio station turned on.
- · Obstacles on the road such as wildlife, landslides or accidents would trigger warning messages on the road to warn approaching traffic.
- · The road lines would light up at night, making it easier to see in the fog or stormy conditions.
The solar panels are hexagon shaped and plug in to each other. Repairing the road means removing and replacing damaged hexagons, not the entire road. The hexagons have been load tested, which means various trucks and heavy equipment have been driven on them with no damage resulting. They have exceeded the National Highway Department’s requirements.
Inventors Scott and Julie Brusaw claim that if all our nation’s highways were covered with the panels, we could produce three times as much power as we consume.
Conceivably, the hexagons could be used to build solar roadways anywhere in the world, allowing poor countries to have a source of income without too much impact to the environment.
The couple is using crowd funding to raise the money for production costs and to build a solar powered parking lot to provide proof that it does indeed work.
Businesses could have parking lots that pay for themselves. Cleaning the surface wouldn’t be that much more difficult than concrete parking lots are now.
Imagine a power outage in a city or town, but the road signs, lights and walkways light up anyway to provide safety and security for pedestrians and drivers.
There are opposing views to the Solar Roadways, however. It’s only fair to introduce the other side of the argument. Two such articles can be found here:
- · http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/05/solar-roadways-project-a-really-bad-idea/
- · http://jalopnik.com/why-the-solar-roadway-is-a-terrible-idea-1582519375
A Historical View Of Working Projects That Met With Opposition
Every new technology has been met with opposition at one time or another. Here is a very short list of a few technologies we take for granted today that were vigorously opposed. Some of the arguments included such items as the cost, the labor involved, the time it would take to build/create/implement it and so on. Although opposed, they are part of our everyday lives.
- · Wiring the entire country for electricity in houses
- · Wiring the entire country for telephone lines
- · Laying the intercontinental telephone cable in the ocean
- · Building the intercontinental railroad
- · Funding the space program to put a man on the moon
- · Building a national highway system
- · Hoover Dam
The point is, that these things were considered too expensive, too big and too tough to build and maintain. They all got done, and we live with them now as a normal part of our lives.
The idea is certainly one whose time is come. Imagine solar walkways that light up at night even if the streetlights aren’t working.
Conclusion? Perhaps trials of these panels both on a few selected, not-so-well-traveled sunlit roads. Perhaps as the tops of buildings such as airports, parking garages and govt bldgs.
True, every single tiny thing that can go wrong cannot be addressed in one article or by a lone project, but then again, asphalt isn’t exactly a perfect product either. Both the old and potentially new roads will need maintenance, cleaning and repair.. That means jobs. Road sweeping and washing units already exist.
Source: The author of this article has over 40 years of experience in diverse subjects and skills such as DIY, home improvement and repair, crafting, designing, and building furniture, outdoor projects, RV’ing and more.
Source: Teo Kermeliotis, “Solar-powered roads: Coming To A Highway Near You?” CNN website, 12 May 2014
Source: Staff Article, “Smart Highway,” Wikipedia website, 12 Jun 2014