Can Solar Roadways Generate Electricity, Create Jobs, Keep Our Roads Ice-Free, and Warn of Hazards?

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:

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  • jadan

    Our energy crisis is created by ignorance in bed with greed, which breeds war. One small slice of the Pentagon’s budget for one year invested in research could boost us into a new energy paradigm.

    The solar roadway is a lovely idea. However, I doubt the panels are rugged enough to withstand the punishment of traffic. These panels will work only when they can be placed on a uniform, impervious surface to support them. Seems to me they are less durable than blacktop…..

    • rad7912

      Did you not hear the part in his talk that said they were way past the strength blacktop?

  • Believe the application is best for parking lots and driveways. The idea for roads is outlandishly expensive – makes no sense.

    • I agree, apply this is small scale operations first

  • Ja Zon

    As an engineer who often works cost benefit analysis – there’s so many problems with this idea that I don’t even know where to begin. Is it a cool idea? Undoubtedly. Is it really feasible as the idea is stated? Not really. First – solar panels are not cheap, and also there are lots of issues with large scale production. Another – why bother putting int in the road where there’s problems with vibrations, pressure, and huge maintenance issues? Why not just put it on the side of the road instead? If you put it in the road to help with heating – well what happens during stormy weather or during the night when heating is most needed? If the sun is bright and shining, its less of an issue than those long night winters. If you’re gonna store the energy, then suddenly you require batteries or connecting it to the power grid. If you need batteries – game over, lithium supplies are not that available and extremely dangerous and also requires constant replacing. If you connect to power grid…what was the point of it in the first place?