Solar roads have been a dream of countless cleantech lovers for awhile now. And there’s actually a company with the name Solar Roadways. We’ve written about the potential of solar roads and solar bike lanes a number of times over the years, but there’s news out now that Solar Roadways has received a $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a parking lot in Idaho paved with solar panels, the most practical application of the idea I’ve heard of in the U.S.
Sure eliminates “space issues” (as if we didn’t have enough roof space and space along the sides of roads and in other unused areas to power the country with solar).
And, if efficient enough (financially and energy-wise), these could eventually have a pretty significant impact on our society.
Solar Roadways complete a 12X12-foot solar road prototype last year, phase 1 of its development for the real world. “The prototype was made up of solar panels, heating elements, and a grid of wireless LED lights encased in durable glass that has the same traction as asphalt and doesn’t cause glare,” cnet reports. “The panels generate a total of 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity per day that can be used to melt snow and ice, spell warnings for motorists, or be connected to weight sensitive panels that illuminate a crosswalk when activated.” Additionally, the solar road can be hooked up to a smart grid, transferring electricity generated to nearby homes, businesses, or electric cars.
With this new money, the Solar Roadways team will carry out phase 2, turning a typical old parking lot located at its electronics lab in Sandpoint, Idaho into a solar panel parking lot.
If successful, the next phase will be making solar sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways across the country. And then, perhaps, solar roadways.