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?