Solar Roadways

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Solar Roadways

I received an email from my family that left a link to a very interesting website, which you can find here,

Basically, the project being tested in Idaho is building these solar power road panels and construct them on the highway roads, parking lots, etc. This is a brilliant idea. I am sure we are all familiar driving down the road and seeing the blazing heat reflecting of the roads. What if we can turn this into energy? The main reasons why solar power is not being put to its full potential is due to lack of public awareness, so share this whenever you can.

These solar road powers can be implemented, they collect vast amounts of electrical power that power the lights, signs, and even nearby houses and cities. Each panel is expected to produce 7600Wh of electricity daily based on 15% efficiency and four hours of sunlight per day, so a typical four lane highway will produce 13.376MWhr per mile. According to a 2007 study by the Energy Information Administration, the average American home used 936kWh per month. Dividing this number by 30 will give us an average need of 31.2kWh per day. Dividing this number into the 13.376MWhr per mile, gives us approximately 428. That's how many American homes can go "off-grid" for every mile of 4-lane Solar Roadway. While the sun shines in the west, the panels can power the east, and vice versa. And another amazing fact is that headlights from our cars can also power these panels, although the exact amount is not clear. Basically, these panels collect energy both day and night.

Electricity is mostly generated by burning coal, and according to certain researchers burning coal produces 50 percent of the green house gasses that contribute to global warming. Changing to these solar power roadways will make us independent from coal and will thus cut entirely HALF of the green house gases! Yeah, go on and reread that again.

Of course they are still testing it and trying to perfect it. The panels are covered with glass, a special type of glass that can hold the weight from a car to a large truck. The glass can be made from recycled materials, thus reducing the garbage in landfills. What is also amazing is that these panels can collect rain and melted snow, filter them, and transport them away from the road to areas of drought or in need of water. The glass is is resistant to dirt, water, and dents. Of course, more serious hazards like debris, sandstorms, etc. can be problematic, but can be dealt with. Earthquakes and such are destructive to any type of road.

The cost is high, but bearing in mind the cost for road building by asphalt gets larger very often. Unlike the roads we use know, Solar Power Roads can pay for itself over time. On these panels are lights that can display signs and react to pedestrians to alert incoming traffic. Since these panels are always active, they can alter people preventing accidents and loss of life, also reduce the costs of vehicle and health insurance. Something like this operates in England, with solar road studs light up the lines on the road at night. A recent study showed that they reduced night time accidents by 70%.

Other benefits include: No more power outages (roaming or otherwise). More jobs for millions of people. Safer driving conditions. Recharge electric vehicles on a road trip. Far less pollution. Reduce land fills. A new secure highway infrastructure that pays for itself. A decentralized, self-healing, secure power grid. No more dependency on foreign oil.

Of course it will be a while until we use these panels used on a large scale. The benefits are amazing, the idea is brilliant, and the project seems very promising. The real question is how much will it cost us if we do not act now?

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Feredir28 wrote:Of course it

Feredir28 wrote:

Of course it will be a while until we use these panels used on a large scale. The benefits are amazing, the idea is brilliant, and the project seems very promising. The real question is how much will it cost us if we do not act now?

How much it will cost now? Nothing, really. If government and banks can make a trillion dollars out of nothing and spend it to bail out useless and corrupt banks, so why couldn't they conjure much less than that on some worthwhile goal? The only problem is, that the bank directors would then have to change alignment in their D&D characters from chaotic evil to lawful good, but their dungeon master won't allow it. That's the only possible reason I can think of.

But as for the cost in the future, it can be anything. Nature, ecology, technology and so on aren't loans with interest rates, maybe the cost won't be only financial. Maybe it will cost U.S. in terms of economy statistics, expenses for damage after climate catastrophes, foreign political prestige, military adventures, dead soldier gravestones, and so on. Or just getting left behind in the world's progress.

However, I wonder how resistant the panels really are. I mean, they didn't drop any glass pieces on floor in the video. I'm mainly concerned about sides and corners of the panels getting chipped off when some driver parks a truck just on the edge of a panel.
But nevermind, I think the idea is wonderful, totally worthy of being included into the Venus project and re-directing most of U.S. military spending on it. The only thing I would add to the prototype is the ability to power electric cars while driving on the road panels. (edit: they're already thinking of it) And maybe some additional piezoelectrics, so the weight of passing cars will be also used to generate energy. But that's just my european thinking which can't rely on proper continental weather to provide regular sunlight.

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 It seems like a stupid

 It seems like a stupid idea to test it in Idaho simply because the changing weather creates a lot of pot holes which I imagine would be damaging to the solar panels. Why not test it in a more temperate climate? Other than that it is an interesting idea. If it could be built with enough durability to withstand the use and weather changes without have to replace whole panels I can see how it could become a useful energy source.  

It was morality that burned the books of the ancient sages, and morality that halted the free inquiry of the Golden Age and substituted for it the credulous imbecility of the Age of Faith. It was a fixed moral code and a fixed theology which robbed the human race of a thousand years by wasting them upon alchemy, heretic-burning, witchcraft and sacerdotalism.-H.L. Mencken

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They could use

They could use Glass-Thats-Stronger-Than-Steel, but that might be a little expensive.

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 Well, it is certainly an

 Well, it is certainly an interesting idea.  I can see one potential problem with it though.  It is quite similar to the roadways in the 1940 novella The Roads Must Roll by Heinlien.  So they may not be able to get a patent on the idea.


That much being said, it would also require a manufacturing infrastructure for the solar panels that we do not, at present, have.  We are getting there though.  A friend of mine from another forum worked out a deal with one of the new companies that are manufacturing solar cells cheaply.  Basically, he got the whole first production run for free and used it to build a solar farm outside of some air force base in the southwest.  As the company expands, they will be giving him more free material to electrify more military bases in the general area.


The return to the company is that they get to advertise that their product is being used for the national defense.  Everyone is winning on this deal.

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Never ever did I say enything about free, I said "free."