"For roughly the cost of the current systems (asphalt roads and fossil fuel burning electricity generation plants), the Solar Roadways can be implemented. No more Global Warming. No more power outages (roaming or otherwise). Safer driving conditions. Far less pollution. What are we waiting for?"
- Scott Brusaw
The concept of using road surfaces to generate clean solar power is actually already moving beyond the idea stage. Roads absorb heat from the sun every day and are usually free of sightline obstructions that could otherwise block the transmission of light rays. And if the roads built for cars and driving are partly to blame for global warming, why not make them part of the solution too?
Idaho-based company Solar Roadways is one of the trailblazers. Electrical engineer Scott Brusaw was inspired to start the company when he heard Caltech solar energy expert Nate Lewis suggest that covering just 1.7 percent of continental U.S. land surface with photovoltaic solar collectors could produce enough power to meet the nation's total energy demand.
Brusaw put two and two together when he realized that the interstate highway system already covers about that much of the nation's land surface, so he got to work designing a system that combines a durable and translucent glass road surface with photovoltaic solar collectors that could be wired directly into the electricity grid. Brusaw's innovative design would also heat the roads in winter, thus providing a important safety benefit.
With improvements in the efficiency of solar collectors in recent years, Brusaw believes his system, if implemented from coast-to-coast in place of the tarmac on existing highways, could produce enough energy to meet the entire world's electricity needs.
But skeptics wonder whether such an expensive high-tech road surface can stand up to the rigors of everyday use—from overloaded 18-wheelers putting extra stress on the highway to oil spills seeping into expensive electronic circuitry—without having to be replaced or repaired often. Brusaw acknowledges that his system still needs fine-tuning. Stay tuned to this developing new technology.
Brusaw's Rationale for Solar Roadways:
* 4.84 billion (12' by 12') Solar Road Panels would be required to replace the current asphalt road system, parking lots, and driveways in the 48 contiguous states. This is enough to provide three times more electricity than the United States used in 2003 and almost enough to supply the entire world.
* To produce a Solar Roadway Panel (not including assembly and installation) would cost approximately $5,000 for materials. Solar cell cost and efficiency is predicted to improve dramatically with thin film technologies in the next few years.
* Cost to build enough coal-fired power plants to provide a similar amount of electricity - approx. $14 trillion.
* The cost of Global Warming is unknown, but could reach 5% to 20% of global gross domestic product annually, according to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.
For more information Contact Scott Brusaw http://www.solarroadways.com