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Published on April 26th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Solar Roadways Engages IndieGoGo To Raise Funding (VIDEO)

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April 26th, 2014 by
 

Originally published on Gas2.

parking-lot-west-1

Harnessing the power of the sun, the Solar Roadways project wants to replace asphalt streets with solar-powered panels the light up and melt snow. While the project has received plenty of press, and even funding from the Department of Transportation, the family behind Solar Roadways has turned to crowdfunding site IndieGoGo in an attempt to raise one MILLION dollars.

From computer rendering to award-winning prototype, Solar Roadways founders Scott and Julie Brusaw have come a long way since the idea first surfaced in 2006. The concept is simple; harnessing solar power by day, at night the LED-embedded roadways can provide lane markers, replace street lamps, and warn motorists of traffic or accident situations. It seems totally sci-fi, but the Brusaw’s have built a working prototype next to their North Idaho workship, and it reportedly stayed free of snow and ice all winter long. The Brusaw’s want to take the next step towards production.

To be sure, it’s been a long road, and the innovative solar panel has had to overcome numerous technical issues. For example, how do you stop a car going 80 MPH on what is technically glass? Their solution was adding a textured surface that proved so effective, it broke a British Pendulum Testing apparatus. They since toned the traction back, and are confident their solar panels are every bit as grippy as regular asphalt.

Another benefit? Broken panels can be replaced without the need for repaving an entire section of road, and with an expected lifespan of 20 years, these panels could pay for themselves many times over. But to make it into production, Solar Roadways needs a lot more money, and their plan is to bring their LED streets to parking lots and sidewalks first, before tackling a major interstate. Yet the list of benefits is almost immeasurable, from lowering municipal power use to making lengthy and expensive road repairs a thing of the past. The first prototype parking lot is already installed, but the next step is a doozy.

They’re looking to raise a cool million bucks, though an infrastructure project like this needs a lot more money than that to really get the ball rolling. Are you down to pitch in?

  • snow-removal-1
  • solar-parking-lot-poodle-1
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  • roadway-image-1

Source: IndieGoGo | Solar Roadways

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • yoyoda67

    The breeze that is produced by a moving vehicles might make wind power another possibility…

  • yoyoda67

    We need the snow melting technology for our roofs as well…

  • yoyoda67

    Maybe by making the texture concave you can cover the surface with small solar concentrators with drainage holes to keep it dry. Another idea is to combine Mag Lev technology to do away with tires and protect the roadway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Snape/100001971991197 Jane Snape

    Solar Roadways has updated their Numbers page:

    http://solarroadways.com/numbers.shtml

    • Bob_Wallace

      I haven’t had time to go through the numbers in detail yet but did notice that you end the page with:

      “The real question may be:
      What will be the cost if we don’t implement the Solar Roadways?”

      No, the real question is:
      Does it make more sense to spend our solar money on solar roadways or solar panels mounted off roads?

  • Caveman

    I did some calculations giving Solar Roadways the benefit of the doubt. @ 5000 watts for this parking lot. 4 hours a day 365/year of production, at $0.19/ kwh (average cost per kwh in the USA $0.10 “which the power companies aren‘t going to pay“). The 12X36 foot parking lot would produce $3.80 per day, or $1,387.00/year of power, this is without running the heaters or the lights… Just putting power back on the grid.

    Based on the quoted $7,000 per 12X12 ft section size = $21,000, and not including the other costs involved, it would take 15 years to break even. Which shows if you factor in all the other stuff i.e. concrete foundation, power inverters, labor to install the roads, power being drawn back off the grid…, they can’t possibly pay for themselves within the 20 year “presumed” lifespan.

    • mike_dyke

      And if you take into account the savings from simpler road maintenance etc?

      • Caveman

        What I am saying is this solar roadway would be a money pit. A vast sucking hole that we would be throwing money in forever. It would be logical, cost effective, just common sense to place solar panels where they are best suite on roof tops and open areas. If you are worried about the cost of asphalt then make the road out of concrete (which is what you would have to do for these solar roadways anyway). The calculations are extreme IN THE FAVOR of Solar Roadways and do not reflect real life,

        • LookingForward

          Why? Bricks are on sand too…
          Why not put them on sand, will help with water flow, they only need to be waterproof, which is easy.
          For roads with cars and trucks on them they will need a foundation, but not for pedestrians and bikes.
          Besides even asphalt has a foundation and this is a lot easier to (re)place.
          Besides, in your calculations you forgat workforce savings for (re)placing the roads, medical savings from slipping in winter to name a few

          • Caveman

            My very conservative calculations are about costs and the claim solar roadway say that these roads will pay for them selves. As far as workforce savings these roads would require much more labor effort, and cost. As far as medical savings from slippery roads that remains to be seen, because it isn’t proven that these roads can accomplish this in real world application.

          • Caveman

            Here is a scenario for you that has to do with slippery roads. Someone is driving on the road in the winter at normal highway speeds, the roads are clear and dry because of the imbedded heaters. Up ahead the heaters failed on a corner and the system isn’t showing this and the road is iced at that point, then the driver skids into oncoming traffic…because they got complacent and relied on the technology that can fail.

          • LookingForward

            That’s what the LEDs are for, not just for roadsigns, but warnings and reroads for traffic and roadblockingaccidents.

          • Caveman

            What happens when the controllers break down? or the grid power goes out, say at night, because the panels do not have battery backup? This is because Solar Roadways states they do not want to use batteries.

          • LookingForward

            grid going out only happens in the US and developing countries :P
            well it is true, happens alot more in the US then the EU.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Snape/100001971991197 Jane Snape
          • Caveman

            What happens when the controllers break down? or the grid power goes
            out, say at night, because the panels do not have battery backup? This
            is because Solar Roadways states they do not want to use batteries then what???.

          • UsirRaMaroon

            Jane, I feel a certain Saturday Night Live skit coming on…Point / Counter-Point. Is critical thinking beyond you that all you seem to do is counter an idea/concern with a link to solarroadways’ FAQ…which doesn’t seem to do much other than dance around questions and concerns. Their FAQ reads like a hillbilly beh’cuz a-thon.

          • LookingForward

            yes they will save in workforce, how long does it take to put down asphalt????
            And about snow and ice, they tested it this whole winter and we all know what kind of winter the states had this year.

          • Bob_Wallace

            How long does it take to put down asphalt? The stuff goes down very quickly.

            Remember, we’re talking surface coat only. The base and lower levels have to be installed before either the panels or top layer of asphalt is applied.

            Watch repaving sometimes. Asphalt goes down, a full lane width, at the speed of a slow walk. One person driving the paver. One driving a roller. A few people hauling in the material.

            The ‘tested all winter’. All winter with snow studs, chains, salt and cinders? Chained up 18 wheelers?

          • LookingForward

            That’s were my expertise ends….
            I know it takes time to drie up.
            Maybe a machine puts them on the road, could be alot faster.

          • Bob_Wallace

            A machine would have to carefully position them. Not with gaps or overlaps. Connections would have to be made.

            They’d have to be glued down somehow. Glue needs to dry.

          • Caveman

            They are actually bolted down then sealed around the edges with “mastic”

          • Bob_Wallace

            We’re talking labor or some fancy equipment.

            And drying time.

          • Caveman

            Yup, Definitely more labor intensive to assemble than standard roads.

          • Caveman

            How long does it take tho put down concrete roadways and then wire in each solar panel then bolt them down individually , The solar panels heaters are powered off the grid not from the solar panels themselves.This makes a net energy loss. Here is a quote from their FB site.

            “After reading the giffgaff, how much electricity do the heating coils use and what is the projected electrical production per panel? I love you guys but i want the data!

            Solar Roadways “”””Hi Dan, Good question with a complicated answer! No coils involved. We designed it so our heaters are driven by the grid and not by the solar cells – the systems are independent of one another. This is because the heaters and LEDs have to work at night, when the panels are incapable of producing power (this will change when we add piezoelectric elements). Currently the full size hexagons are 36W solar panels, with 69-percent surface coverage by solar cells. This will become 52W when we cover the whole surface. When we add piezoelectric, they’ll be capable of producing even more power. Also, as the efficiency of solar cells increase, more power will be converted. I tested the heaters with my bench-top power supply, which provided them with 72W, which was an overkill and made the surfaces warm to the touch on most winter days. We still need to experiment with different voltages at different temperatures to determine the minimum amount of power required to keep the surface above freezing. Remember, they don’t have to heat up to 85 degrees like the defroster wire in your car: they only have to keep the surface warm enough to prevent snow/ice accumulation (35 degrees?).”

          • Bob_Wallace

            “. When we add piezoelectric.”

            Rube Goldberg lives.

            Keep piling unproven stuff on top of unproven stuff and you get a membership into the Not Ready for Prime Time Club.

            These folks need to back up. Take their basic solar cell technology and put it to the test. Leave aside all the other heating/piezoelectric stuff aside for now. Show that the panels hold up in actual use (or in a good lab simulation which includes abrasion and rapid temperature swings). Do a materials spec sheet compared to conventional PV solar. Spend a few thou on testing.

            Then, if they’ve got something promising, move on to the next step.

          • Caveman

            Amen to that. Next they will probably have spring loaded air bladders that are imbedded to operate mini wind turbines as a backup for when the grid goes out at night.

          • Caveman

            One other thing about SR I find counter intuitive is they want to get rid of the power grid (because of the ugly power poles…) to use Solar Roadways as the power grid. But by their own admissions their system is dependent on it ?????

          • LookingForward

            at night

          • Caveman

            Basically 20 hours a day, in bad weather, when the solar cells aren’t producing power.

          • Caveman

            To answer your question about putting these solar panels on sand, sand is unstable, and if you pay real close attention to brick walk ways, they start off level, over a fairly short time they become unlevel producing dips and unevenness and this is with the occasional foot traffic not 80,000 pound semi’s driving on them.

          • LookingForward

            Bricks aren’t bound together with cables and such, these panels are to transfer the data and electricity.
            And for cars and 80,000 pound semi’s you use concrete or old roads as a foundation.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Movement snaps connections or damages insulation causing shorts.

            Add the cost of a concrete road in when you calculate the LCOE. And, remember, concrete roads also don’t always stay flat. Frost heave, for example, can break apart concrete sections.

          • LookingForward

            Like I said I’m not a real expert in this system, just a fan, who loves the idea and I think all these problems can be fixed or minimized.
            If they aren’t placed right, that could happen.
            the concrete wouldn’t have to freeze with these panels.
            Gives me an idea, sidewalk panels could potentially help the concrete dry faster with heatingelements in them?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually, you don’t want concrete to dry fast. (If you’re talking about pouring concrete.) Slow drying increases strength.

            Being a fan isn’t necessarily a good thing. Better, IMHO, to look at ideas with a critical eye. Look for the defects as well as the benefits.

            A solar roadway would be a great thing. But I see too many reasons why this is not the answer.

            Electricity production is very competitive. You can’t come to market with electricity that is more expensive than the delivery price for other generators (ignoring the time of delivery and dispatchable stuff for the moment).

          • Caveman

            What’s your point?

        • Caveman

          In my opinion. in real life these roadways would probably cost more in electricity than they would produce, because of the electronic gizmos drawing power 24 hours a day (it may not be much per panel but it adds up quick), even worse when the heaters are being used, because the solar power generation is at best 4 hours a day maybe 190 days a year. Who is going to pay for the power used the rest of the time? On another note the average power cost is what we pay, not what the power companies would pay back for electricity.

          • LookingForward

            4 hours 190 days a year?!!??!?
            Dude, you need to check up on your solar, unless you’re thinking that SR will be build on the poles.
            Solar provides 365 days a year all the time when the sun is up, it might not be 100% all the time, infact most of the it won’t be.
            But how long does snow falling last on average? How much do LEDs use in electricity and how much space do they take per mile road?
            In total, per average mile road and time use/production, solar panels will provide way more electricity then is used by the heaters and LEDs.

          • Caveman

            Solar cells only produce power about 4-5 hours a day. and do not produce power 365 day a year (show me). The LED lights will consume 0.33 up to 0.7 watts each, and I think Scott said there would be 48 LED’s per panel this equal 15.8-33,6 watts, I have no idea what the micro possessors consume.

            The power inverters used to put power back on the grid are only about 70% efficient, so 30% of your power is lost there.

            Regardless of Scott’s ability to make his manufacturing processes cheaper he has no control of the costs of his components he has to buy i.e. solar cells, glass panels, LED’s…

            Another thing: you seem to think that any excess power produced is going to help, but the excess energy is not being stored to be used later (no energy storage devices).

          • LookingForward

            solar produces electricity at 90% capacity 4/5 hours a day, rest of the daylight it produces less, but it still produces, even when cloudy/shaded, as long as there is some daylight.
            I’m not saying put SR on every highway/street/lane in the world, but there are places it can help in more ways then 1 and save and money and give security, in the area of seniorcitizen homes for example or (crap my English sucks at the moment :S) clinics for physicaltherapy, homes of people with a handicap. They won’t have to be afraid to go outside in winter.
            Plus you won’t need the LEDs for walkabouts.

          • Caveman

            Show me the link where you got that information about the production of the solar panels.

            All this stuff you just mentioned does not have anything to do with the topic, that the Solar Roadways will not pay for them selves over time.

          • LookingForward

            Dude, they are SOLAR roadways….
            Maybe they won’t pay back fully, the fact there is a return from them compaired to asphalt is enough.
            Google how solar works
            maybe that helps

          • Bob_Wallace

            Dude, show us the math that proves these things are cheaper than asphalt. Pretend you’re a salesperson for this company and convince us with numbers. What’s our savings?

            And quit shouting.

          • Caveman

            I know this shouting is getting bad.

            I give the numbers that are extremely in favor of Solar Roadways, and they complain, that the numbers are wrong, but none of them come up with the “right” ones to prove me wrong, or prove my calculations are faulty (biased against SR). All I hear is the cost saving of maintenance, or the cost saving on telephone poles, or paint…

          • Duffles

            There aren’t any official numbers, so just like I can’t “prove” to you anything, you shouldn’t throw around numbers that you are just speculating about.

          • Bob_Wallace

            When someone makes a claim it is then up to them to prove that claim.

          • Duffles

            Yeah, I agree.

            But also, when someone is proving that an idea is bad, they shouldn’t make up numbers to prove a point.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Did I make up numbers?

          • Duffles

            No, but caveman did. And it seemed like you thought it proved something.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Which numbers?

          • Duffles

            Wow. Playing dumb, and I should be taking you seriously when you are speculating and trashing a project that could have so many benefits?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No, I am not playing dumb. I asked you a question.

            Please specify what numbers you think are made up.

          • Duffles

            Really. The 5000 Watts, the 4 hours a day 365/year of production, the $0.19/ kwh, $7,000 per 12X12 ft section size, I’m not even sure where he got the 20 year life span.

            He throws around words like “quoted”. Lets actually see some quotes and sources.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “with an expected lifespan of 20 years”

            Is copied from the article.

            Caveman -
            “I did some calculations giving Solar Roadways the benefit of the doubt. @ 5000 watts for this parking lot. 4 hours a day 365/year of production, at $0.19/ kwh (average cost per kwh in the USA $0.10 “which the power companies aren‘t going to pay“). The 12X36 foot parking lot would produce $3.80 per day, or $1,387.00/year of power, this is without running the heaters or the lights… Just putting power back on the grid.”

            I did my own set of numbers…

            12′ x 36′ = 432 sq.ft. At 10 watts per square foot (100′%coverage) that would be 4,320 watts. They aren’t at 100% coverage and they won’t get there. Bolt holes. LEDs and edges.

            4 hours at 4.3 kWh = 17.2 kWh. (4.5 would be a better number for US average.)

            Wholesale value of electricity ~$0.05/kW. $0.86 per day.

            Priced out at higher retail ($0.19/kWh) = $3.27 per day. But that number has no meaning. There’s no retail customer.

          • Duffles

            Are your made up and speculative numbers suppose to prove something that caveman’s didn’t?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Please point up the “made up” numbers I used.

          • Duffles

            Ugh, this again. Seems like we’re just going around in a circle, and I suspect its because you have no good argument against what i’m saying. This is where I stop. Have fun with your speculative numbers that you’ve used to “prove” that this project will fail.
            It’s sad how many people will probably listen to your idiocy.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Stopping might be a good idea, on your part.

            Two of us have shown you how much electricity these solar roadways should be able to produce (under best circumstances) and how little money that actually would generate.

            Obviously performance will be less than panels mounted on rooftops. The roadway mounted panels will be shaded by passing/stopped vehicles. They will get dirtier. And I have questions about how much light is actually getting through the glass cover given its textured design. Plus a few years of having the surface being ground by grit and tire chains is likely going to take things down a large notch.

            Try not being a “true believer” and look at the idea with more critical eyes. We aren’t going to spend billions of dollars putting solar panels on the road if it’s cheaper to put them on roofs or low value land.

          • Caveman

            I find it amusing when people such as yourself are presented with the actual verifiable facts about something you can’t accept them, but when you are presented with BS that you want to believe you won’t let it go, and most of the time don’t stay on topic to somehow prove your point.

            If you are so convinced of this SR tech then go give them all your money because if it worked out you would get it all back… but when it fails (because the math doesn’t lie) don’t whine about it.

          • Duffles

            I find it amusing when people, such as yourself use outdated and unofficial numbers and facts to speculate and trash projects and ideas that could potentially help people, like you.

          • Caveman

            So what are the official up to date numbers?

          • Duffles

            It would probably help your cause of trashing the project if you actually went to their website and did a little bit of reading and research. I suggest the FAQ page.

          • Caveman

            You are the one with the complaints about my numbers, but you are unwilling to give the the correct numbers. If you don’t want to help your claims that what I wrote is wrong then it is on you. Prove it, or stop whining the numbers are wrong… also I have been to their website, and their FAQ page that’s where I got the numbers from for their electrical production.

          • Duffles

            1. I’m “complaining” about your numbers, because there aren’t any official numbers, that my whole argument, what you are arguing is speculation. Jesh.
            2. “Prove it, or stop whining the numbers are wrong”, really, because your numbers are the exact numbers and you know them for a fact. No speculation going on.
            3. A lot of your arguments that you’ve been arguing are explained in the FAQ page. If you’d actually gone there and read it we both could save some time.

          • Caveman

            this is a quote from the FAQ page.
            “How much power does your parking lot generate?

            Our parking lot is roughly equivalent to a 3600-watt solar array, and
            that’s with only 69-percent of the surface covered with solar cells –
            it will be around 5200-watts when fully covered. The amount of power
            produced depends entirely upon the amount of sunshine available, so it
            varies by location, season etc.”

          • Duffles

            Notice the words, “roughly”, and “around”. Do those words make those numbers sound exact or official?

            Here’s a quote from you, “I did some calculations giving Solar Roadways the benefit of the doubt. @ 5000 watts for this parking lot”, but look, they said 5200 watts. Another example of how worthless speculation is.

            Also, your entire argument is that they won’t pay themselves off in the the estimated ( again, not a synonym for exact ) 20 years that they said. So we should not build it because it may take longer than what they initial said?

            Here’s something you should think about, solar roadways, while initially will cost more than regular roads, but unlike regular roads that have initial cost and then don’t pay for themselves, will slowly over time pay for themselves and reduce the initial cost.

          • Caveman

            so are you suggesting that the cells will produce more power than the 5200 watts? at $0.19/kwh is a difference of $0.15 per day. Fact the power companies only pay what it costs them, not what they charge. plus the $0.19/kwh is $0.09/kwh more than the average cost of electricity in the US.

          • Duffles

            Wow. Either your eyes jumped to the part in which I had numbers in the paragraph, or you really don’t understand concepts beyond: more money now is good; less money now is bad. That’s it for me, I’d done.

          • Caveman

            If I actually used the correct numbers, the panels would take much longer than they are designed to last to pay for themselves. which means they would never pay for themselves, because you would have to replace them with new panels before they are paid for.

          • Duffles

            Yes, you are correct, which would mean you are losing money. That does sound bad, but first before you condemn solar roadways lets compare it to regular roads, who NEVER pay for themselves, and don’t have any of the benefits of solar roadways.

          • Caveman

            first of all the solar roadways would never pay for themselves either. secondly I never said that these don’t have benefits.

            My problem is the sales pitch for these solar roadways is that they will pay for themselves, and that has been my point the whole time, This is because in nearly every argument everyone keeps saying that they will pay for themselves.

          • Duffles

            The “sales pitch” is that they will be much better than the roads we have right now, with a combination of all the benefits it gives, not just that it will pay for its self.
            Also just because they won’t pay for ALL of their cost they will still be in use for some time before they need replacing, I don’t understand why you think that its a pay for all your cost or none of it type deal.

          • Caveman

            I am not sure that the benefits really out weigh the costs, though.

          • Caveman

            This video from Scott states at the beginning ” What we are proposing is a road that pays for it’s self over it’s life span.”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ep4L18zOEYI

          • Caveman

            Here is another quote from their indiegogo campaign, This is near the bottom of the page past the perks.

            “We have found a way to offer a road that can pay for itself over time by the
            energy it creates etc.”

          • Caveman

            They said about 5200 watts, so that is speculation on their part.

          • Caveman

            Solar Roadways said that there system would last about 20 years

          • LookingForward

            HEY. Try and keep it civil allright.
            If you’re so against this tech and don’t want to have a civil discussion about possible pros and possible cons about the POTENTIAL of this tech, then what are you doing on this blog?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Civil?

            Suggesting you put your money where your mouth is not being civil?

            BTW, no allcaps shouting. Be civil.

          • LookingForward

            By civil I mean not insinuating that I’m naive or stupid.
            Calling something that somebody has been working on for years bs and not talking about what somebody should with his money if he doesn’t know that person and his financial situation. Maybe I happen to be very poor for Dutch standards, which I happen to be right now and I don’t have to be reminded about it by somebody on the internet. If I had the money I would indeed have invested.

  • climatehawk3

    In the North the idea of this for a driveway in place of a snowblower is attractive-although I miss the option of a couple of teenagers with shovels.but then,also miss the paperboy on a bike.

  • KISS ARMY commands you

    This is genius. Seriously next level thinking. A smart road will predict traffic way more efficiently. Tell you where parking spaces are. Change lane markings automatically. Imagine roads glowing red indicating an accident up ahead. New connectivity for small towns and remote homes. If this became a standard utility, anywhere there is a road, there is network. Network access in the middle of nowhere! Telecoms be damned. This needs to happen. Plus the guy looks like Ron Swanson. Google get on this hippie family.

  • LookingForward

    I’ve read abit about solarroadways. I too was scaptical at first, but I kept an openmind.
    It seems that, if build on non traffic/busy roads, they will pay back for them selves with just the energy produced. And I’m not even counting roadrepair, medicalsavings (slipping in winter) and roadcleanup (in winter).
    They might not be at an optimal solar angle, but apparently optimal enough, which is the point, right?

  • eveee

    The interesting thing is the thinking behind it. The market for snow clearing is pretty large in the North. I imagine this is going to evolve some. I can imagine it starting with driveways and sidewalks. A lot of people would pay good money to sell the snow blower and get out the bathrobe and slippers instead. They clearly have heart and are taking a big step. I commend them for it and wish them good luck and good cheer.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Why?

    Why put solar panels on the road where they will get dirty, be shaded out by cars, undergo stress loads, not sit an an optimal angle and probably some other things I haven’t thought of?

    We’ve got lots of roofs that are pointed at the Sun. We don’t need to use special hardened panels on top of roofs. We seldom have a UPS truck double park on our roof.

    • Omega Centauri

      Unless the economics works out (admittedly a tall order). Armoured? panels on a surface that is otherwise wasted would be nice. What matters is what is the cost difference between this solar road, and an ordinary one? Is it small enough that turning it into a PV power plant in this manner is a better bargain than a ground mount nearby? Note ground mounts outcompete roof racking as far as utility solar goes, and thats what we are talking about here.

      It would be nice to get dual use out of PV areas, roof mounts is one way to do that, and maybe walkable/driveable ground covers, but at what price per watt? Another way is elevated ground mounts with some other use such as growing crops or grazing going on underneath. In arid/semiarid areas, taking out half (or three quarters) of the sunlight might actually allow useful plants to grow underneath. But, again the issue of cost matters.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Take the PV out of the road paving, put it on the roofs. It’s an easy fix.

      • Ronald Brakels

        I’ll mention that electrical heating of roads to remove snow and ice is something that people are looking into:

        http://gizmodo.com/5417008/self-heating-roads-clear-snow-with-ease

        And while the energy costs are vast, it is the sort of think that can be worked around peak demand times which may make it more practical.

        • Ronald Brakels

          And while there is no need for the PV to be in the road surface modules, a lot of the cost of PV panel is wiring and backing so if something like this is going to be used to keep roads clear of snow anyway, the cost of throwing in PV as well might be pretty trivial. Of course that doesn’t mean it will be economical.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Snape/100001971991197 Jane Snape

        Go read the FAQ for why they’re not going with roofs: http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml

        • Ronald Brakels

          Thanks for the link, Jane. In that FAQ they mention canopies over roads, which definitely wouldn’t be cost effective. But I was more thinking of the situation we have in Australia where rooftop solar far outcompetes utilitity scale solar, such as solar farms or building solar capacity into roadways. But, in a country like Japan that has more limited roofspace, and which can have a lot of snow, and which isn’t shy about trying new things or spending a few extra yen to make the world a better place, maybe they will put solar capacity into roadways.

          (I realize that the video may have given some important information, but I generally don’t do videos ’cause if copper wire was good enough from my grandfather it’s good enough for me. None of this fibre optic nonsense for Australians!)

          • LookingForward

            LOL
            Same problem here in Holland as in Japan, maybe more so, we can’t do any groundmounted solar, no space :P

            17 million people in 1 of the smallest countries in the world, I think if you count square feed per capita, we are the smallest, atleast in top 5

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well, there’s still almost 2,500 square meters per Dutch person and while you don’t have as much roofspace as Australia and the place is astoundingly cloudy by our standards, solar PV is becoming so cheap you’ll soon be able to afford to put it on your east, west, and south facing roofs and south facing walls. Now I don’t know if road surface modules will ever catch on, but if they do for reasons of snow and ice removal, then maybe it will be worthwhile to throw some solar PV in them as well. I suspect that even cloudy, crowded Holland rooftop solar (and solar electricity imports from other countries) will make road PV uneconomical, but maybe it will be seen as worthwhile, at least in some places.

          • LookingForward

            We are allready filling our south facing and flat rooftops, last year we put up 100k solarpanels or systems, don’t remember.
            Anyway, if this growth continues, we will hit 1 million before 2020, which is awesome, cause the government is neutral, no subsidies, low taxes and net metering, some companies and banks offer low intrest loans or leases, but that’s it.
            If government all over the world would be neutral like that, it would be awesome.
            Keep in mind, when it comes to residential, we have about 7.5 million homes and when it comes to weather we have about 200/250 cloudy days a year.

          • Ronald Brakels

            That’s a lot of cloud. But, looking up the figures, I see that Amsterdam receives more sunlight than London with optimal solar operating at about 13.5% of capacity compared to London’s 12%, so you are better off in that regard than the Brits.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Fill up your east and west facing roofs as well. A east or west facing roof will produce about 80% as much electricity as a south facing roof and extends the “solar day”.

    • Goldmarble

      Why?

      Dirt is really the only problem. Shaded out by cars? Only part of the time. Undergo stress loads? Design for that, and it’s not a problem. Not sitting at an optimal angle….neither are solar panels on a roof, how is this part of your argument? Even using conservative, inefficient calculations, having all roads in America would produce all of the electricity needs for the entire country, for years to come.

      Replacing coal, oil, hydro electric, nuclear, natural gas, solar and wind farms. IE: Returning valuable land space, back to useable land space. Not enough of a benefit for you? Okay, covering all roofs in PV would do this as well….but would your option offer anything else?

      We currently do not have the infrastructure to support an all-electric car as a reliable, regular form, of long range transportation. Solar roads would provide that infrastructure, beyond any other option currently available. With their full system, you would have cell phone service, uninterrupted, everywhere you are, when you are on a road.

      Having run off water collected and processed to remove contaminants would help reduce a significant source of pollution to our ground water.

      You have a smart road that can help reduce accidents by alerting people to sudden obstacles ahead. You have a road that no longer needs snow removal, line painters, nor work crews to make a 6 foot patch. You no longer have to worry about potholes, patches, or heaved expansion joints.

      Hell, the traction surface can be modified to offer far more traction than asphalt, or concrete can ever offer, won’t wear out as fast, and provide nearly the same traction in the wet, as it does in the dry, which neither Asphalt, Concrete, nor any other current paving system can offer.

      So…sell me on the fringe benefits of solar panels on roofs, over a solar road.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Many roof installations are angled toward the Sun.

        A recent NREL paper on solar panel output loss reported that panels stressed by wind buffeting tended to lose ~5x more output than panels which were mounted so that the wind didn’t shake them around as much.

        When it rains it gets muddy and it stays muddy after the rain has stopped.

        Not only do we have roofs for solar panel installation. We also have parking lots (overhead) and brownfields. We could even mount panels over highways. Space is not an issue.

        You are assuming that these panels would last for 20 years and not develop “potholes”? That their surface wouldn’t be ground opaque by tires and grit/sand? That we wouldn’t have to continuously clean the road surface?

        Look, we need to get off fossil fuels. We need solar. But we need to spend our generation money wisely. What I see here is a lot of money potentially spend on very high strength encapsulation and lower production per nameplate watt.

        We’re on our way to PV panels for <$0.50/W. We're on our way to installed solar for $1.00/W. There's no advantage to these road panels that would justify spending a lot more per watt.

        I'll go one step further. These people have a prototype. They are way past an idea on paper. But they haven't found funding, not even a measly million bucks – venture capitalist's pocket change.

        If VCs aren't giving them seed money they must not have impressed people who look at projects every day.

        • LookingForward

          I don’t think this idea is about having a huge return on investment.
          It’s about having a return on investment in general, which regular roads don’t have. And this idea gives that option with profit. That’s not even counting the other benefits named in this blog.
          Maybe dirt could be a problem, improved cleaning systems and drains will mostly solve that.
          If a big fan of renewables, like your selve, doubts this idea without looking deeper into it’s potential(?), how are investers suppose to look at it?

          • mike_dyke

            I like the idea and wish them well.

            The main thing I like is the modularity and hence the speed to replace broken/old panels with new ones as opposed to the current resurfacing. I expect that a team of workmen could replace those tiles a lot quicker and with a lot less noise than the current tarmac surface can be done thus saving a lot of the hassles/annoyance of roadworks.

            Bob- Yes the panels are not at the optimum angle for generating power, but at least they are generating *some* power rather than nothing from today’s surfaces. Also, if new tile versions come along that have better panels, then they can be swapped out easily.

            If you think of how long and wide all the roads in America are, then that is an extremely big solar array without using any other land.

            One to watch for the future.

          • Bob_Wallace

            “how are investers suppose to look at it?”

            Were I a venture capitalist looking at this and trying to decide to invest the first thing I would do is recruit an engineer who knows how to take the materials list and manufacturing process and pencil out the cost per watt if built and installed at scale.

            If the cost isn’t $1/watt, installed, I’d walk away.

            $1/W is what the real world competition is likely to be. We’re already installing for <$2/W in the US and under $1.50/W in Europe. China is installing for just a tidbit over $1/W.

            Then, if it was found that it might be possible to compete with PV panels I'd next get my hands on one of these panels, glue it down somewhere where it would be driven on a lot, and measure the actual output.

            See what dirt, scratches and car shadows do to drop the 'best case' output.

            If it still made sense I'd send it to a testing lab and have them do a 20 year stress test to get some idea whether one could reasonably expect that sort of lifetime.

          • LookingForward

            You are looking at it from a solar energy perspective, if you look at it from a roadbuilders perspective it’s whole different story.
            PLUS what Jane said

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s look at it from a road builder’s perspective.

            First, what’s the cost per square foot for paving with asphalt rather than solar panels?

            Second, what’s the repair costs? We commonly have to dig up sections of pavement, re-level and repave. What’s it going to cost to replace the panels that get bent out of shape as the road base deforms?

          • LookingForward

            They said they had it officially weighttested, check the forum/FAQ/site of solarroadways.
            Starting price will indeed be more expensive, because the product is more expensive, but labor will be cheaper, because installing is easier/faster, which won’t balance out the extra expense.
            BUT you get alot more return from them, compaired to asphalt.
            Electricity, laborcost savings for possible replacement, medical savings, labor and materials for deicing roads in the winter.
            Enough to counter the extra expensise

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, we get it. You’re a true believer. I’m a skeptic.

            I look at the quality of their dirty panel test and realize that while these people might be of good will and golden intentions they aren’t doing engineering level testing.

            You assume that the power produced will offset any extra cost. You’re basing your assumption on nothing. There are no material/production costs for the product at scale.

            Just think of the extra strength that has to be built into the cover glass, frame, backing plate and connections. You’re going to have massive loads driving on these things, not just a robin alighting.

            You’re assuming that somehow the amount of electricity produced per square foot (at obviously a higher cost) will be less than electricity produced by a square foot of $1/W PV panels. There are no engineering studies to back up that assumption.

            You can’t sell the electricity at cost if PV panels are producing for less per kWh. And that’s heading toward 3c/kWh.

            You’re assuming that it would be cost effective to use electricity to melt snow off roads. Something that isn’t being done now. And that it would be cheaper than running a snow plow.

            Lots of assumptions that one has to be willing to make in order to believe.

          • Calamity

            Yup. better to spend a dollar than to make a dollar.Keep throwing money at oil created roads that break in a few years than to chance making a profit that isn’t oil based.

            This thing takes off and a whole lotta people are gonna get filthy rich, and the money will be staying inside the country from now on, instead of going overseas to the terrorist funders.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually, the US is currently producing more than 60% of the oil it consumes. We could get more people into EVs and PHEVs and be oil-independent. Then all the money would stay inside the country.

        • Calamity

          Except repairing the roads.Creating a new power grid and improving safety. That is despite the fact that they would pay for themselves and drop energy prices. Other than that there’s only a few dozen good reasons, and one bad one. It impacts the oil industry. Oh my! That would be terrible. Poor Exxon. Will we still have to give them $50 billion in subsidies and tax exemption when we don’t need them anymore?

          • Bob_Wallace

            You are making assumptions that these things would work as the promoters claim. If you read through the comments there are multiple doubts raised. And those doubts, if proven true, are deal killers.

            Let’s hold back our belief in this idea until we see some independent testing and independent cost analysis.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Snape/100001971991197 Jane Snape

        And dirt isn’t even a problem, as they recently discovered: http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Snape/100001971991197 Jane Snape

      Dirt’s not an issue — see here:

      http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml

      • Bob_Wallace

        Oh, come on. We clean solar panels to get rid of dust and bird droppings.
        Go out sometimes and sweep a section of road. See how much grit, gravel and dirt you find.

    • yoyoda67

      It is important to identify problems with new ideas but also just as important to find work-arounds. By keeping an open mind we can make more technology that is more adaptive and more perfected.

    • yoyoda67

      The beauty of solar roadways is the benefit of transferring power directly where it is used therefore not loosing power in transmission over distance.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Parking lots are closer to where power is used than are highways.

        Solar roadways is an interesting idea. But there are many unanswered questions.

        • simon

          They are also installing the solar panels in parking lots. It’s not just for roadways. In fact roadways are going to be the last place that they install. Better to test in a parking lot (at low speeds) than on a highway.

    • Calamity

      When you guys grow a brain, call me. ASPHALT = COSTS $ ! SOLAR ROAD = MAKES $. The USA spends $60 BILLION on roads a year. $20 BILLION is for repairs alone. We spend $47 BILLION repairing the power grid in the US. Even if these cost a trillion dollars a year; between the equivalent costs and the millions of jobs created….. the improved environment and health impact of pollution would make this a no-brainer.

      Put these thing in ! ALL costs are paid for by users. NOT TAXPAYERS! USERS! WE become the power sellers. Not the Middle east. NOT EXXON. America. You want to see energy costs drop like a rock? Take out 50% of the gasoline cars and replace them with electric. How about reinventing Detroit? New technologies. More jobs. New manufacturing? More jobs. private use? EVEN MORE JOBS! If they were only 4% efficient they would be cost effective. They are almost 20% effective. Shading? Where did you get your idea about that? Nonsense. Hell, you headlights would feed them at night. 12 hours of even moderate sunshine would make this profitable. USE COMMON SENSE!

      • Bob_Wallace

        No allcaps shouting, please.

        http://cleantechnica.com/cleantechnica-comment-policy/

        Whose to say that were all our roads “solar” the annual repair bill wouldn’t top $20 billion? Think of the heavy trucks and vehicles using tire chains driving over sheets of glass. Sheets of glass with electronics in them.

        • Calamity

          NO TIRE CHAINS. It is so frustrating trying to talk to people that don’t think! The roads are self heating. No more plows. No more salt. No more gravel. The roads stay clear all year round. The plates are rated to over 8000 psi. The largest trucks don’t come anywhere near that. The repairs get done to individual modules. They are connected to each other wirelessly. If a module got destroyed, the others tell an operator where the module is, and a small truck gets deployed to replace itthem. Not a whole section of road. Not a “shutdown lanes”. Justa few minutes and it’s fixed. When was the last time you saw a pothole get fixed that fast? Bob- READ!!!!! IN CAPITALS!

  • Ronald Brakels

    An interesting idea. I am wondering how they stay snow free. I would guess they have a heating element and since they are connected to the grid they can draw power to stay warm during a blizzard. That will take a huge amount of energy, but a huge amount of energy is already spent keeping roads clear and at least these roads will be net producers of energy. I don’t know if this idea will turn out to be economically practical, but I do know that it currently costs a fortune to surface roads, maintain markings, and keep them free of snow and ice, so maybe this will catch on. Perhaps only on roads that both receive a lot of sunlight and have high snow/ice removal costs at first. Of course, if rooftop solar is pushing down daytime electricity prices this will weaken the economics of solar roads, but such is life.

    • Calamity

      The way it is explained is that the plates use some of the residual power to keep the plates just above freezing, so when the snow lands, it melts before it can freeze up. The economy of it is that it makes money by selling energy. Currently roads just cost, and cost, and get repaired and plowed and painted ad naseum. These never get painted. Never get plowed and never stop making money. you can tell, I’m pretty excited. If we get this done we reduce greenhouse gasses by 65%. We get off foreign oil and we break the terrorists that use oil money to exist. We keep our money in the country. We create millions of dollars and new technologies. It could be huge!

      • Bob_Wallace

        You might be well served by carefully reading the critical comments. It looks to me as if you are way out in front of the data.

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