Energy from Solar Roadways
We are using fossil fuels as the primary source of energy to run our Industrial Civilization. But we are paying a heavy price for using fossil fuels in the form of environmental damages. Now, we know that fossil fuels and natural gases are not going to last forever. This will lead us into big problems. We can’t go back to life of the 18th century. We can’t shut down our industrial units and means of transport and communications. Many are worried about the impending situation and thinking of solutions.
An Idaho-based company called Solar Roadways has been attempting to solve this energy crisis in its distinctive way. According to Scott Brusaw of Solar Roadways we can counter the energy crisis by adopting a unique method. We can construct Solar Roadways! We can convert 25,000 miles of petroleum-based asphalt highways and byways of the lower 48 states into Solar Roadways! Similar results can be achieved with the parking lots, airports, malls, stadiums and driveways!
The good news is they are getting universities and research labs interested in their venture. This company is also working on a 45-mile prototype between Coeur D’Alene and Sandpoint, Idaho. By now we can gauge that this project is not cheap. But Scott said four companies have expressed interest in this project. Electrical engineer by profession, and also the founder of the company, he believes that if the US Interstate Highway system can be exchanged with his system with a solar cell efficiency of 10 percent, it could power the whole country.
These Solar Road Panels will generate and restore energy for our homes and businesses. The added side effect will be a fifty percent cut in the greenhouse gases. Scott envisions about the interconnected and intelligent multiple Solar Road Panels. He predicts a future where interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets, residential streets, or plain dirt or gravel country roads will be having Solar Road Panels catering to the energy needs of homes or business units. Scott’s Solar Roadway will be an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized (secure) power grid.
So how can be this Solar Roadways constructed? It will be a three layer system. The surface layer will be tough enough to bear the onslaught of weather and vehicles. The upper layer will be translucent and hence will be able to let the sunlight pass by. The middle layer will consist of large array of solar collecting cells. These cells will also store solar energy for later use. This middle electronic layer will be fitted with microprocessors that will control lighting, communications, monitoring etc. The third base layer will distribute power collected by the electronics layer to the units connected to the Solar Roadways. On top of that they will also distribute data signals such as phone, TV, Internet to homes and offices.
If this project can be implemented, it will be greatly beneficial. This system will eliminate the need of centralized power systems. Roads will be acting as power grids. This power system will go without poles, relay stations and transformers. This system can’t be shut down by any extremists or power company. This system will reduce the dependency on foreign oil.
Solar Roadways will facilitate the use of electric cars too. A major problem of electric cars is their refueling or recharging. Since Solar Roadways will have plenty of electricity charging of electric cars won’t pose any major problems. This will make cross country tour with electric car feasible.
Replacement of “normal” roads with Solar Roadways will generate green color jobs and give a required push to solar manufacturing industry. Another added benefit will be safety of drivers and wildlife. Since the roads will be intelligent roads they can warn drivers of impending dangers and wild animals venturing on the roads thus reducing the number of road accidents. Drivers can even be cautioned about the potentially dangerous drivers! The image below depicts an area in England where solar road studs light up the lines on the road and according to a recent study they have reduced night time accidents by 70%.