Published on August 17th, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Roadways (the company) to Build Solar Panel Parking Lot (+ Top Transportation Stories)

August 17th, 2011 by  

Scott Brusaw, CEO of Solar Roadways, on a piece of a potential solar road. Image Credit: Solar Roadways

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.

More top transportation stories of the last week on page 2 –>>

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

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  • Raum Bances

    Cover the parking area with solar panels. Don’t build the solar panels into the pavement and then park cars on top of them to block the sunlight. This seems like a no brainier.

  • Anonymous

    i agree on parking lot or even sidewalk applications… though, i think the focus is more on seeing how well it works & addressing any issues that pop up to see if it can eventually be applied to roads (where covers are less practical or useful)

    • Anonymous

      replying to the 3 comments on the bottom here

  • Anonymous

    Another approach is thermophotovoltaics to mine the heat stored in asphalt. . .

  • Mac McDougal

    Amen, Raum. Please, you government grantors, please reconsider. If we build *roofs of solar panels for parking lots, we win at least four times: 1) The cars are cooler, reducing the need for immediate A/C; 2) The lot-owner can either harvest the power for the owner’s operations, or sell it back to the local utility. 3) UV damage to cars’ paint is reduced, which reduces the amount of energy/toxics used for repainting; 4) Retrofitting existing lots is a viable large scale strategy, while repaving probably is not.

  • Nbjunk2

    At least for parking lots, it would likely be more practical and less expensive to simply cover the parking lot with solar covered car ports. People love covered parking. Off the shelf tech, and easier to replace damaged panels. Plus you’re likely get more wattage for the same area.

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