Scott and Julie Brusaw have been working for years to create smart solar panels that, when covered by special tempered glass, can actually replace roadways and parking lots. In addition to collecting solar energy, solar roadways also sport LED lighting, heating elements, inductive charging capability for electric vehicles while driving, and even some stormwater management abilities.
This is a fascinating idea and it seems like a lot of people agree.
It’s such a compelling idea that so far over 36,000 people have backed the project on Indiegogo, with total contributions of over $1.5 million as of this writing on Thursday. That surpasses the previous Indiegogo record for most individual contributions to a single campaign that was held by Mathew Inman’s effort to raise money for a Nikola Tesla museum, which 33,000 people contributed to.
Solar panel roadways give me two main concerns. How durable can they make the panels? Roads endure a lot of punishment beyond normal passenger vehicles. Trucks cause a disproportionately large amount of damage to roads. How would the panels react to overweight trucks? How would the stand-up against an accident?
The other concern I have is about the texture of the panels. Tire manufacturers have spent many decades perfecting the grip that our tires generate against asphalt and cement. How long would it take to either make the surface of the panels suitable for our tires or how long would it take for tire manufacturers to figure out the right formula?
The solar panel road idea is obviously still young and I’m sure they are working on these issues. I think we will continue to see more creative ideas for integrating alternative energy into our everyday world.
Check out Solar Roadways here.