Solar roadways are a technology I heard about earlier this month from I Fucking Love Science and thought it was a really cool idea, but just another fleeting idea that I had heard about. Later on in the month, I saw one of my friends make a post about it on Facebook and I thought I would give it another look because I figured if the word was spreading, maybe this is bigger than I originally thought it was. It turns out that a new advertising video was created entitled Solar Freakin’ Roadways made to target and alert the younger audience (20-40). On top of this, the inventors of solar roadways have received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build prototypes of these solar panels. Now all they need is some seed money for a startup to start independently manufacturing panels.
The benefits of this technology are endless and it will create a domino effect that will keep creating more and more benefits, so I will only list a few of my favorites:
- These are solar panels after all, so they will generate electricity; it’s estimated that if all of the roadways in the United States were replaced with these solar panels, we would generate three times the amount of electricity that we use! Two things come to mind: that’s 300% of our energy budget (and that’s a lot) and this is nothing you wouldn’t hear if you watched the video, so why am I saying this. I’m saying this because there is a lot of talk of the impracticalities (cars damaging the road, creating potholes and skidding out, etc.). Even if this technology won’t work for the roads, it could still work for sidewalks, driveways, etc. If we replace 10% of the country’s asphalt with solar roadways, we can generate 30% of our budget, which is still a third of annual energy that we gain for next to nothing.
- Programmable Roads
- Since these panels have several little LED lights on them, rather than painting lines to separate lanes and parking spots, we can just program these little LEDs! Anyone who just thinks about their morning commute will immediately think of how blurred the lines are between lanes, the markings for left-hand only, and painted words telling one to slow down. With programmable LEDs, not only would be able to see these better but we wouldn’t have to waste the taxpayer’s dollars on repainting the roads.
- No Snow!
- If you live in the north, you can definitely relate to this advantage; heck, nowadays almost anyone can relate to this. As a kid, snow on the roads is great because it potentially means no school, but as an adult, snow on your way to work is probably one of the most tedious and potentially dangerous situations. The LEDs that were mentioned earlier can generate a lot of heat on the roads melting the snow and ice. This means that not only will our commutes be easier and less hazardous, but the salt the melts the ice and corrodes your car will no longer need to be spread. Thank Goodness! This greatly reduces your trips to the car wash.
- I’ve also been doing a lot of reading lately on our current water supply and we’ll always have the amount of water that we need. The problem arises when you talk about salt water and fresh water. We have, and will always have, an abundance of salt water, but the process by which we convert salt water to fresh water requires a very large amount of power. With the excess of electricity generated by these solar roadways, we will always have enough power to convert salt water to fresh water! Since this a separate field, there is also technology being developed in this area that will utilize much less power; for now however, these solar roadways can assist with this issue.
I’ve heard of several projects recently that can provide clean energy, but Solar Roadways is the first of these that I believe in enough that I wanted to be a part of. I don’t aim to create this post to advocate others to donate to this startup; the seed money has already been overfunded. Instead, I urge the reader to head over to Google or Indiegogo and do some reading to teach yourself about this project because I strongly believe that is going to become bigger in the coming years!