How Solar Panels Could Transform Parking Lots and Roadways Around the World
Are roads and parking lots covered with solar panels that feed power back into the grid actually feasible or does it sound like a green-energy fairy tale?
It's been about eight years since an electrical engineer and his counselor set out to show that updating our traveling infrastructure with renewable energy is more than a fantasy. Now, they're on the precipice of releasing their prototype for Solar Roadways, a system that would replace asphalt on our roads, giving them an energy production purpose.
With built-in LED lights, materials sturdy enough for vehicles and heat that would prevent the buildup of excess snow and ice, Solar Roadways is an ambitious project, to be sure. But Scott and Julie Brusaw have believers in the federal government—they have received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development, including $100,000 in 2009.
"Half of our prototype parking lot is mono-crystalline, while the other half is poly-crystalline," Julie Brusaw told Gizmag. "The parking lot is equivalent to a 3,600-watt solar array. The power collected is dependent upon the amount of sunshine received. So as with all solar, it will produce more in some parts of the country and world than others."
The prototype parking lot is at the couple's electronics lab in Idaho. Textured glass covers the solar panels and circuitry, and the couple says the lot is fully operational. Next, the Brusaws will add covers for mounting holes, mastic between panels and software for LED patterns.
Solar Roadways' glass exceeded all requirements during rounds of testing for traction, load and impact resistance in civil engineering laboratories around the country.
In 2010 and 2011, the concept claimed first place in two General Electric competitions—the Ecomagination Challenge for "Powering the Grid" and the Ecomagination Challenge for "Powering the Home," respectively.
Here's how the Brusaws envision things once their technology is brought to the market:
"Everyone has power. No more power shortages, no more roaming power outages, no more need to burn coal (50 percent of greenhouse gases)," they write on their site.
"Less need for fossil fuels and less dependency upon foreign oil. Much less pollution. How about this for a long term advantage: An electric road allows all-electric vehicles to recharge anywhere: rest stops, parking lots, etc. They would then have the same range as a gasoline-powered vehicle. Internal combustion engines would become obsolete. Our dependency on oil would come to an abrupt end.
"It's time to upgrade our infrastructure—roads and power grid—to the 21st century."
YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE
Disturbing footage of a snake in Goa, India vomiting an empty soft drink bottle highlights the world's mounting plastic pollution crisis.
By Melissa Hellmann
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. At home, she was feeding her children locally sourced, organic foods.
By James O'Hare
There are 20 million people in the world facing famine in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. In developed nations, too, people go hungry. Venezuela, for instance, is enduring food insecurity on a national level as a result of economic crisis and political corruption. In the U.S., the land of supposed excess, 12.7 percent of households were food insecure in 2015, meaning they didn't know where their next meal would come from.
Artists are taking the climate crisis into frame and the results are emotional, beautiful and stirring.
So you've seen the best climate change cartoons and shared them with your friends. You've showed your family the infographics on climate change and health, infographics on how the grid works and infographics about clean, renewable energy. You've even forwarded these official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graphs that explain the 10 clear indicators of climate change to your colleagues at the office.
As the Trump administration moves full speed ahead on boosting the oil and fossil fuel industry, opposition to increased pipeline construction is cropping up in different communities around the country.
By Simon Evans
Last Saturday, two dead whales washed up on the coast of Suffolk, in eastern England, and a third was spotted floating at sea.
What happened next illustrates how news can spread and evolve into misinformation, when reported by journalists rushing to publish before confirming basic facts or sourcing their own quotes.
By Monica Amarelo and Paul Pestano
Sun safety is a crucial part of any outdoor activity for kids, and sunscreen can help protect children's skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Kids often get sunburned when they're outside unprotected for longer than expected. Parents need to plan ahead and keep sun protection handy in their cars or bags.
By Joe McCarthy
A lot of people take part in community clean-up efforts—spending a Saturday morning picking up litter in a park, mowing an overgrown field or painting a fence.