Solar Roadways have the potential to transform roads across the U.S. into renewable energy powerhouses.
Solar panels are Scott and Julie Brusaw’s vision for the future of transportation and energy. But these aren’t your average solar panels.
The couple founded their company, Solar Roadways, in 2006 based on Scott’s prototype for hexagon-shaped solar panels capable of generating renewable energy and bringing power to electric cars, homes and businesses.
Made primarily out of recycled materials and photovoltaic cells, the panels are designed to “pave” bike paths, sidewalks, driveways, basketball courts and roads in place of traditional asphalt. They are built to sustain up to 250,000 lbs.
Solar Roadways estimates that if every major road in the U.S. was replaced with their technology, the panels would generate three times the amount of energy currently used in the U.S. Such a large-scale energy production has huge implications.
Power would become cheap and shortages or outages non-existent. Coal burning, now responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions, would become obsolete. The rising cost of gas and dependency on foreign oil would abruptly end since electric cars could stop and re-charge at rest stops or in parking lots alongside the roads.
But that’s not all. The panels are also designed to increase driver’s safety on the road in a variety of ways. LED lights allow the panels to light up using their own power, increasing road visibility during nighttime and storms. Motion sensors activate the LED lights, alerting drivers to animals or obstructions on the road. The panels also have the ability to create heat during snow storms, melting snow and ice. The heat would virtually eliminate bad roads due to winter weather, and leave little need for costly salt and plowing of roads.
The Brusaw’s road is designed with two underground sections. One side will hold electric wires, diminishing problems caused by above ground wire exposure. The other side of the road will be used as drainage for storm water, which is currently a huge source of pollution. As they explain in their video, the Brusaws envision the collected water can be treated and cleaned on site or at a facility.
It may seem too good to be true, but this technology is real and it’s generating tons of interest right now. Scott Brusaw’s Tedx Talk explains his inventive process, the ideas behind his technology, and what Solar Roadways has done to get the ball rolling so far.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has given Solar Roadways $850,000 in grant money since 2009. With the money, the company developed and built a 12-by-36 foot parking lot using their technology. Next, the company’s hometown Sandpoint, Idaho, plans to install the roadway in a parking lot and sidewalks.
In April 2014 Solar Roadways began a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. Their campaign raised 2.2 million and became the most popularly backed indiegogo drive ever. The Brusaw’s lighthearted second video “Solar Freakin Roadways” went viral with almost 15 million views as of last month.
On June 18th, Solar Roadways was invited to display their technology at the White House during the first ever Maker Faire hosted by the President.
The technology is available and the public is interested; now how can we make Scott and Julie’s vision into reality? Installing Solar Roadways across the U.S. may cost about $56 trillion, a figure 20 times the annual federal budget. In order to make costs more attainable, solar technology needs to advance and become cheaper. States have the power to help by offering incentives and subsidies for the usage and development of solar technology. The Solar Energy Industry Association released an infographic in 2013 breaking down the top ten most solar conscious states and the reasons they made the list.
Ohio isn’t on the list…yet. Here’s something to consider: Scott Brusaw’s family moved to Ohio when he was 8 years old. He also worked as the Director of Research and Development at a manufacturing facility in Ohio for more than 12 years. These roots make the Brusaws a great connection for Ohio as we move forward into the future of Solar Roadways.
The Brusaws are taking the initiative to become leaders in the Solar Roadway movement. Now it’s up to the innovators of Toledo: will we take the opportunity to join this movement and help the Brusaws turn their visions into reality?
More Questions? Visit http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.html for detailed information from the Brusaws and answers to a lot of great questions.
SPB Global tech writer