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Sun May 26, 2013, 08:15 AM

Electric Avenue: Solar Road Panels Offer Asphalt Alternative

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/solar-road-panels-offer-asphalt-alternative-a-901792.html


This is how a road made of solar panels might appear. Since many LEDs are built into them, up-to-the-minute traffic information, such as areas where an accident has recently occured, could be displayed directly on the surface of the road.

A lot of thought is put into how much energy we use to drive from point A to B. But what if the road itself could generate energy? Julie and Scott Brusaw, a married couple from Sandpoint, Idaho, have taken on just such a concept, which they hope will make the auto transport of the future cleaner and safer.

The idea is as simple as it is ingenious. Wherever roads are laid, solar panels could go instead. They would generate electricity, which would in turn be fed into the grid. Thus, oil is conserved twice: Electric cars could be charged with the energy produced by the panels, and the panels would replace the use of asphalt, the production of which requires petroleum.

Moreover, Solar Roadways, as the Brusaws have dubbed their invention, are heated and equipped with integrated LED screens, which act not only as street markings, but can also show warnings directly on the road.

The Brusaws are aware that their vision cannot be realized in a day. They've decided to start small: with pedestrian and bicycle paths or large parking lots at supermarkets. As they see it, every square meter of asphalt that gets replaced with Solar Roadway is a small step on the path toward independence from fossil fuels. The giant leap would be to take on urban roads and highways on a global scale.

11 replies, 2504 views

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 08:39 AM

1. The illustration above looks dangerous to me

Presumably, the panels would not be as reflective/smooth as glass, which would offer poor traction, particularly when wet.

Instead I assume the surface would be rough, to offer better traction, and capture more light (however, the illustration wouldn’t look like “solar panels.”)

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:03 AM

2. And in three years...

 



with a replacement cost of a gazillion dollars.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #2)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:09 AM

3. everything has to be replaced, maintained.

that the US is too stupid to account for that is a different topic.

this idea would at least get 2 uses out of a road. = rather than just getting from A to B.

but there's always some stupid reason to move progressively.

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Response to xchrom (Reply #3)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:13 AM

5. Have you noticed that solar panels are placed where they get limited abrasion? Roofs? On poles?

 

No traffic of any sort?

I'm not against multipurpose roads or expanding the use of solar panels, but this one is a bit crazy. Car traffic is a real killer on surfaces.

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Response to Buzz Clik (Reply #5)

Sun May 26, 2013, 10:43 AM

7. A lot of the research is toward more durable and flexible panels

What they lose in efficiency they make up in reduced costs. Can't see this being a quick replacement, but like the forward thinking. Using right of ways would make sense, already have it set aside for buffers through the countryside.

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Response to bigbrother05 (Reply #7)

Sun May 26, 2013, 10:45 AM

8. Okay. As long as we agree that this is fantasy and highly improbable, I agree it's forward thinking.

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:09 AM

4. Solar panels covered in dirt and rubber don't work so well....

n/t

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:41 AM

6. The sides of the roads, not where people drive, but the right of way extending outside....

....could provide millions if not billions of sq. feet of accessable usable surface for solar panels.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 10:57 AM

9. Let's cut to the chase and invent a road that burns coal.

Demonstrative of the lengths to which poor Germans must go to try to make sense of their disastrous Energiewende decision.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 05:17 PM

10. Never say never, but space for solar is not limited here

Something would need to drive innovation and adoption, and I'd imagine that a lack of space for traditional panels would be probably be a major consideration if it were to happen.

We have no such shortage here.

Myth #1
Solar electricity cannot contribute a significant fraction of the nation’s electricity needs.

Solar electric panels can meet electricity demand on any scale, from a single home to a large city. There is plenty of energy in the sunlight shining on all parts of our nation to generate the electricity we need. For example, with today’s commercial systems, the solar energy resource in a 100-by-100-mile area of Nevada could supply the United States with all of its electricity. If these systems were distributed to the
50 states, the land required from each state would be an area of about 17 by 17 miles. This area is available now from parking lots, rooftops, and vacant land. In fact, 90% of America’s current electricity needs could be supplied with solar electric systems built on the estimated 5 million acres of abandoned industrial sites in our nation’s cities.
- Myths about Solar Electricity (DOE)

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sun May 26, 2013, 09:11 PM

11. Cool

Seems like there are a lot of potential downsides (like how expensive would it be to fix a solar panel pothole?). I think there are a lot of better places for solar panels - like house tops, parking lot shading, etc. But I think it's innovative thinking all the same.

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