Roads and associated infrastructure like car parks take up huge amounts of space and often, particularly outside of peak times – they aren’t used all that often. One couple think that perhaps we could put the roads to better use and also generate electricity from them and they’ve even come up with a prototype.
Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds… literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole (http://solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml). They have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a “home” for power and data cables. EVs will be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology will allow for charging while driving.
I think the idea of solar roads is quite an interesting one and there seems to be a lot of benefits from it. However there are probably a lot of issues to overcome yet including that right now the costs to doing so are probably astronomical for anything of scale. What I do like is that people are starting to think about how we can use our road space differently. It’s a massive public resource and if we can get more value out of it with something like this then that surely benefits everyone.
And then there’s this version