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Roadways may pave the way for a new CANVAS of solar power.

Solar paved ROADWAYS may power our grid!

Here at Sun Source Solar Brokers we ask:  could a road be used as an energy source? Could things like snowplows be rendered unnecessary? Could an economy based on petroleum convert to one based on renewable energy?

This isn’t just the plot of a science fiction movie; these are the beginnings of something that could change the way we live.

The new Solar Roadway concept is one that uses a modular paving system full of solar cells featuring LED lighting that could replace the old, asphalt roads and produce triple the energy of that currently used in the US.
“The solar roadway is essentially its own decentralized power grid, and something that can become the foundation of a new more effective grid.” Scott Brusaw saws on the SolarRoadways.com website. He and his wife, Julie, produced the prototype that would allow these claims to be tested in everyday situations.

Thick glass panels, each with their own solar cells, heating elements, LED lighting and fiber optics, comprise the modular paving system. These are not the same as the glass used in window panes, these panels can hold 250,000 pounds and are based on the black boxes put in airplanes that are built to survive any crash and conditions.

This would allow for anything from businesses to residences using the roadways selling energy back to preventing the necessity of snowplows by the panels melting snow. Furthermore, the LED lights can be programmed to do many things, from matching traffic lines, indicating construction, warnings, and more. They could tell you there’s an accident ahead, light up when a pedestrian crosses, reprogram lines on the road, and provide lighting in dark or difficult conditions.   All over the world, even for a solar energy broker raised in Sonoma and Marin Counties we see hope for solar roadways.   Brusaw even found that headlights used on the highway could provide energy on these roads!

On top of all this, it can not only pay for itself but produce triple the energy the USA currently uses? It seems hard to believe.  “At first, half the people thought we were brilliant, and the other half thought we were mad” says Brusaw in a short film called Focus/Forward produced by Michele Ohayan.

Brusaw’s work and calculations were funded by a grant from the 2009 Federal Highway Administration. The figures conservatively estimated four hours of sunlight, during the Idaho winter. Since you cannot angle roads like you do solar panels, the calculations were with them flat. This estimate is configured form the adoption of the plan nationwide and by replacing 31 thousand square miles of other surfaces, from walking paths to interstate highways.
But as of now, it is solely a parking lot.

The Brusaw’s who’ve known each other since they were toddlers; look at Solar Roadways as a method to combine ecological health with economic health.  “There’s no better way to improve the world and national economy than by doing something that improves the environment as well,” says Brusaw.

So what is the cost?

The assessment of cost is coming in July 2015, which will be included in their final report for the contract, Brusaw writes.   “It will undoubtedly be expensive, but it will be vastly outweighed by the benefits it provides”.
Brusaw says it would take 5 billion 12 by 12 foot panels to completely replace or cover up US roads and pathways, which he notes is lots of manufacturing, and subsequently many jobs.  It would be easier to simply replace these panels than to do extensive repaving projects like must frequently be done today.

The idea has so far gained significant support, not just from the Federal Administration Grant, but from independent and private donors like contributors on Earth Day and Indiegogo, breaking a record for the site.
This is a small step for the concept of solar roadways, but it might someday become a giant leap.

 

Article written by Jennifer Coleman of Sun Source Solar Energy Brokers, providing solar brokering, brokerage, and solar energy consulting services in Santa Rosa, Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano and San Francisco Counties. For more information, please visit www.SunSourceSolarBroker.com

 

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