a guest post by Bob Haughton, Vice President of Business Development at ONTILITY
There are those that think within the box, those that think outside the box and those that choose to throw the box away entirely. Such is the case with some recent conceptual thinking utilizing solar. A few years ago, Scott and Julie Brusaw announced that brand new idea of utilizing a system of modular pavement solar panels that could be installed directly onto roads, parking lots, driveways, bike paths and most any surface that a person could imagine.
No Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore. This is technology that’s being developed right now for possible application in the near future. It sounds very “Star Wars” but it is closer than you might think. A U.S. company, Solar Roadways is working to make the idea of solar roadways a reality. Established in 2006, the Brusaws received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build the first ever Solar Road prototype in 2009 and has received a second round of developmental funding from the feds as well.
This free-thinking couple has not only done calculations of the solar roads effect but they’ve taken it one step further and actually produced a working prototype.
According to the company website, Solarroadways.com, the company says that, “The hexagonal panels, made of glass and appearing fragile have undergone rigorous testing and so far have succeeded in safety and durability tests. They’re designed to withstand loads of 250,000 pounds allowing for the nations heaviest trucks to roll over and they’ve been successfully tested for traction and found to be as good as asphalt or concrete.
And there’s all types of additional features being batted around concerning this application. Integration of LED lighting within the panel rather than road paint or traditional lane dividers. The company also indicates that they’re working on the feasibility of incorporation of a heating element that could keep roadways free of snow, operating much in the way radiant heating in flooring works.
There’s also thoughts that car headlights might actually be able to charge the panels as well in limited capacity at night, so the possibilities are seemingly endless. While concept thinking like this takes serious funding the company has gotten some R&D money from the government and has a fundraising platform currently running for future speculation. What this tells us is that there are solid innovative possibilities concerning solar energy involving more than the standard roof top or ground mount solar applications that we’ve come to know. This kind of thinking is deserving of the support of a nation that can only benefit from less fossil fuel dependence and more reliance on renewables.
For more information on Solar Roadways and their current fundraising campaign, please refer to the link below.
It's the roadway of the future! Feel inspired? Help us bring this project to the next step: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways#home
*Artist's rendition of interstate – Graphic design by Sam Cornett
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