Solar-powered roads to generate power
28 May 2014
The first prototype of a project that envisages using solar road panels that would generate over three times the power the US needs, melt snow in the winter, offer embedded LED lighting, display driver alerts and be reconfigured to suit road conditions, has received federal funding from the US government.
The technology is now being tested by couple from Idaho, Scott and Julie Brusaw.
In addition, Solar Roadways also has a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo.com to raise additional funds to ramp up production of their hexagonal-shaped Solar Road Panel technology.
The four-layered hexagon panels comprise a half-inch thick glass surface, followed by a layer of LED lights, an electronic support structure (circuit board) and a base layer made from recyclable materials.
Each solar panel produces DC power, which is converted by embedded micro-inverters into 240 volts AC. The panels connect to form a grid.
The Brusaws say the panels would collect energy from the sun, and be part of a smart system that could even "talk" to cloud-connected vehicles.
According to Scott Brusaw, the technology could produce three times more power than what the US used as a nation. He added the technology would eliminate the need for coal-fired power plants.
Brusaw said the polygon panels, that snapped together to form circuits could withstand up to 250,000 pounds of pressure.
Though glass can hardly be said to the best material for a road, according to Brusaw, one of the technical specs for the panels was that it be textured to provide at least the traction offered by asphalt roads in the rain.
The couple's crowd sourcing efforts had garnered funds in excess of its $1-million goal with no signs of stopping.
According to the Brusaws they were ready to move from the prototype parking lot they had created to actual manufacturing.
However, the company's Indigogo page has not much to say about the actual costs of implementing the technology.
According to a commentator, who took the company's estimate for the cost of a 12' x 12' glass panel at $10,000, covering all roads in the US would cost $56 trillion nearly 20 times the annual federal budget.
However, cost was not the lone concern as practicality concerns were also involved. According to The Verge, ''it was hard to imagine a city ripping up asphalt and installing a largely unproven technology when it could achieve the same level of power generation by planting panels along the road.''