My wife showed me this cool new technology called Solar Roadways this morning.
She showed me with a Youtube video you can look at here.
The technology is a new type of pavement made out of solar panels.
The video describes it quite well in a funny way (Solar Freaking Roadways!).
Solar panels cover the road. On top of the panels are a few LED lights and then a strong shield of glass.
The glass can support up to 250,000 pound (113,000kg) trucks. The inventor of Solar Roadways, Scott Brusaw, chose that researched weight because the transportation of oil refinery equipment is done at weights of around 230,000 pounds (104,000kg).
The LEDs are used to create lane lines or for other necessary road paint (Pedestrian Xing, Slow Down, etc.).
If every paved surface in the USA were covered with these panels they would generate three times the current energy consumption of the USA.
Other energy sources would still be needed as solar panels don’t operate at night.
The panels can also heat themselves to melt snow and prevent dangerous driving conditions in colder states.
Two underground channels are planned to run along side the Roadway. One will hold water runoff. The other will hold electrical wires.
The wires carry the electricity off the solar panels to consumers.
The channel could also hold telephone lines, fiberoptic internet cables, etc. By placing them underground, storms are less likely to cause outages.
Mr. Brusaw, pictured above in a tractor on the prototype driveway of Solar Roadways, seemed particularly proud of the traction of Solar Roadways.
Some people worry that cars won’t be able to stop on glass, but Solar Roadways glass panels are textured in a way that cars going 80mph (130kph) on a wet panel could stop just as fast as on wet asphalt.
My worry upon seeing the giant textured panels was that bikes would not be able to go on them.
Fortunately, Mr. Brusaw has an answer for that too. Another variety of the panels has a smoother texture that bikes can ride over comfortably.
The smoother texture allows cars to stop in times similar to wet asphalt at speeds of only 40mph (65kph) though. You can’t have everything.
It would be easy enough to build a bike lane out of the smoother panels next to a road made of the textured panels to accommodate both types of vehicles.
If you’re interested in learning more about Solar Roadways you can check out their website or fund them using Indiegogo. The fundraiser is until June 20th 2014.