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The Possibility of Paving Surfaces with Solar Panels

solar panel roadways

The Vision of Electrifying Pavements with Solar Panels

Inspired by racing toy cars up and down the miniature electric tracks as a youngster, Scott Brusaw always wanted the concept to come alive in the real world. Along with his wife, Julie Brusaw, he explored the idea of constructing a solar powered super-strong case, LEDs to brighten the road lines and heating elements to withstand ice and snow. Soon after, the couple went public with the idea. Since then, Solar Roadways has received an extraordinary amount of attention and funding from the Department of Transportation, Google, and many other organisations.

Solar Roadways Project’s Core Functional Value

Envision a world where everybody has power, where you can bid goodbye to shortages; a world where there is a minimum dependency on foreign oil, no more greenhouse emissions and finally, there is fresh air to breathe. Yes. Solar Roadways project is expected to power the whole world. It has the potential to produce 3x the amount of power the US currently uses. It would also be interesting for you to know that some solar road projects even promise to charge electric cars while moving. Great, isn’t it?

From Theory to Practical

Initially, the concept of solar road surfaces became a controversial topic and faced an endless barrage of scepticism. Later, Solar Roadways began proof-of-concept work, and the results turned out to be promising.

In 2014, the Netherlands built the first solar road, a bike path. Although surprising, this solar road is working even better than expected.

In January 2016, France announced its plan to install 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) of solar roads, designed to supply power to five million people. As a matter of fact, France opened the world’s first solar road for cars, in a Normandy village on December 22, 2016, with the goal of powering street lighting. This is a 1-kilometre long road in Tourouvre-au-Perche, covered in 2,880 photovoltaic panels.

Road paved with solar panels powers French town

Road paved with solar panels powers French town. Image Source: phys.org

Earlier, it was hard to believe that it’s practical to build a road surface that is both tough and electricity generating, but the French appear to have accomplished the task. Each day, an average of 2,000 cars drives this road. This implies that even in cloudy Normandy, it can produce 280-megawatt hours (MWh) of power per year.

A German company, Solmove is planning to install photovoltaic cells in German pathways. Idaho-based Solar Roadways has received three rounds of U.S. government funding (and $2 million in venture capital) to experiment its technology.

Julie Brusaw says, “We have interested customers from all 50 states and most countries around the world.” Does this mean solar panels could replace asphalt roads? Many supporters have their hopes high, but the critics elevate questions about cost, efficiency, and robustness.

Despite its drawbacks, the idea of creating smart roads still seems to be a popular one. After all, the goal behind this idea is clean, plentiful energy, economic renewal, and a livable climate, and that is worth achieving!

Currently, we’re in a new solar experimental phase, as governments evaluate a way to combine practical solar power with existing infrastructure, and sans precipitating a big environmental effect. Finally, our governments are taking this seriously, and that is good news.

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