Solar Roads – think about it. Kinda sells itself. Think about all those parking lots cooking in the heat all day. And all those new electric cars sitting there needing charge. Solar paving could be a reality in the future.
The future starts in crazy people’s imaginations, backyards, and basements. This couple in Idaho is working on glass-covered paving that can not only generate electricity from the sun, it can light up, sense a foot (or hoof), and even melt snow and ice!
Of course the price is high compared to traditional asphalt (estimates are 10- 50x more expensive, currently), but the idea is so appealing many feel it’s worth continuing research on how to reduce costs and increase usability.
Also, most American roads are crap. Even new, we build to a poor spec and the roads rot and fail almost immediately. When you add the safety features like smart lighting, messaging, and ice removal along with the potential to generate *all* of our electricity needs without burning fossil fuel, I say “here here” to these folks and I hope something like this hits the market in the near future.
If America built real, high-quality, 20 year roads we would spend more. We build cheap roads designed to fail in a few years so the construction contract can be renewed. To reverse that unhealthy trend we should start pilot programs testing these modern, smart roads.
Update – read more, followed some pilot programs. There are issues with this – maintenance, blockage (shade), wiring, ground water, etc.
Basically, there are much better places than a roadway to solarize – like next to the road, or above it, or along the guardrails, etc.