Solar Freaking Roadways!

We at Washington’s Blog are big proponents of decentralized energy production and storage, because it is key to protecting against terrorism, fascism and destruction of our health, environment and economy.

We noted in 2011 that a Dutch team figured out a way to make roads into solar generators.

The concept is interesting:

And a pilot project was actually launched in the Netherlands:

American engineer Scott Brusaw has taken the concept much further.

Brusaw is not a spaced-out granola-eating hippie.  He has numerous hardware and software patents, is a former Marine Corps sergeant and Sunday school teacher, and he worked in the oil exploration business in Nevada, Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois.

After winning a U.S. Federal Highway Administration grant to develop a prototype, they’ve built prototypes, and have recently raised $1.7 million in Indiegogo donations to get the project off the ground.

His concept has won awards and nominations from General Electric, the World Technology Award, Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology).

Brusaw claims that solar roads can turn a profit, generate electricity for electric cars, keep roads snow and ice-free, warn of upcoming road hazards, reduce water pollution from surface runoff, improve wireless access, and create a lot of jobs:

Yup … solar freaking roadways:

On the other hand, critics say that the concept is cost prohibitive. For example, Huffington Post notes: said the concept is “verging on utopian.”

“On paper, it really does sound like one of the greatest inventions ever. In reality, though, where, you know, real-world factors come into play, it will probably never make the jump from drawing board to large-scale deployment.”

The site points out that asphalt costs between US$3 and $15 per square foot, whereas the cost per solar panel could amount to about $70 per square foot based on 2010 calculations by the company.

One estimate pegs the total cost to repave every road in the U.S. with panels at $56 trillion, or about four times the country’s national debt. That’s according to Aaron Saenz,writing for the site Singularity hub.

Who’s right … proponents or critics of solar roadways? We believe that a credible cost-benefit analysis by neutral, third-party experts with the right expertise needs to be carried out before we know the answer.

For another inspirational alternative energy idea, watch this:

Source: Washington’s Blog

Category: Energy, Science

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “Can Solar Roadways Generate Electricity, Create Jobs, Keep Our Roads Ice-Free, and Warn of Hazards?”

  1. constantnormal says:

    I kinda wonder … what would it cost to pave a driveway with this? And do these tiles load-level between each other, as pointed to in an earlier solar panel piece?

    I can see solar driveways to thousands of McMansions around the nation, they would make excellent environmental trophy statements, while reducing the owners’ dependence on the creaky facilities that the little people are stuck with. And there would likely be tax breaks as well. Heckuva lot better thing to have than a “car elevator”.

    Not every environmentally-friendly thing needs to be immediately applicable to all corners of our society. Sometimes the best benefit comes from deterring more wasteful uses of the money.

  2. constantnormal says:

    … even if it would cost $56 trillion to pave every road in the US (even those that are gravel today?) with solar bricks, just look at what the cost would have been estimated to be to provide nationwide (let alone international) air travel in 1903, when the Wright Brothers demonstration flight took place … today’s cost estimates of what it would take to convert to solar power are almost certainly just as wrong as the estimates of a national network of airports and fleets of passenger-carrying aircraft would have been in 1903.  Who in 1903 imagined that a century later, people would be able to get produce at their local grocers that was picked on the other side of the planet a week earlier?

    My point here is that nobody can possibly have a clue as to the ultimate costs or benefits of such a conversion. Disruptive technologies are never imagined to turn out the way that they ultimately do (that’s why they are called “disruptive”, they surprise the established interests, and change things).

    The biggest flaw in the arguments against trying this is to assume that every bit of roadway should immediately be paved with these things. Some roads are better situated than others to generate power, and some roads are more conveniently placed where there is a crying need for environmentally-friendly power (such as cities that are choked with smog and people). The cost-benefit for those instances is different than for replacing the roadways in a sleepily little retirement community in upstate NY with a thousand inhabitants (who are generating little or no revenue to tax to fund the construction).

    They should target their initial customers carefully, and if the idea is successful, it will take off and generate its own momentum. If it turns out to be a financial albatross, it will not fly. But do not judge the success/failure without at least trying it out.

  3. supercorm says:

    Speechless … awesome. How much did cost that war in Iraq again ?!

  4. theexpertisin says:

    Perhaps we could raise money for implementing this and other road maintenance and improvements through raising the gasoline tax a few cents per gallon and charging the freeloaders with non-fossil fuel vehicles a surcharge of $12,000.00 on their transport at the time of purchase.

    Pay a fair share..

    • rd says:

      As our roads crumble to gravel, this could be an alternative road surface if we decide to actually drive on pavement again.

  5. Bob K. says:

    I am in this industry, and what Solar Roadways is doing is like building a concept car. There will be some applications they will monetize. But other technology will simply pass this concept by for large scale deployment. There are polymer based and paint based solar applications coming that will more easily and cost effectively generate electricity from a road surface.

  6. dsawy says:

    Two questions that immediately spring to mind are:

    1. How do his solar panel pavers handle snowplows? Got lots of ‘em in northern climates.

    2. And in concert with snowplows, we have lots of trucks and cars with chains in the winter.

    These two issues turn large sections of concrete interstate into gravel in a few years here in the mountain west.

    • dss says:

      If you saw the entire video, there will be heat generated by the panels and there will be no need for snow shovels, plows or cars with chains. Don’t know what happens during blizzards.

  7. Annas says:

    The cost of these road surfaces might better be seen in light of cost of new power plants. And of course they would start where new interstate roads are being built. The road to Alaska would be good start. If it can work there, it should work most places. So how far north can they be built? Toll road would find them a money maker. South Carolina and other coastal states would find them useful for evacuation routes, as well as new power source.

  8. Dave E. says:

    If no one will say it than I will “where we’re going we don’t need roads”

  9. Bob A says:

    No one is a bigger supporter of solar power generation than me but
    Almost ANY other method or location for installing solar panels makes more sense than this.
    It’s not like we’re running out of rooftops or desert.
    Think Solyndra
    Put it to sleep