The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Nation's First Solar Roadway Coming to Historic Route 66
The Historic Route 66 welcome center in Conway, Missouri will receive the nation's first solar roadway panels on a public right of way.
"... part of why we picked this location is because of the the historic Route 66 concept," Laurel McKean, MoDot assistant district engineer, told KY3. "You know, here's one of the main roadways that's iconic for the United States, and being able to use the history to create potentially the future."
The panels were developed by Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup founded by Scott and Julie Brusaw.
Their project received tons of attention in 2014 after the world caught wind of the couple's ambitious plan to harness the energy being soaked up by the country's roads and parking lots all day. Their viral video "Solar FREAKIN' roadways" has been viewed more than 21 million times to date.
KY3 reported that MoDot will first test out a 12-by-20 foot patch of panels on a sidewalk leading to the rest stop's main entrance.
"This is kind of the first phase, and we hope in the future that we then can move it out into maybe the parking lot, and then maybe into a travel area," McKean said.
Not only will the panels help generate power for the rest stop, the panels' heating elements will prevent snow and ice accumulation.
"What's so appealing from the revenue side is yeah, if we don't have to treat roads or sidewalks or pavement anymore, that's less material, less chloride, less things that go into the environment and also the aspect of getting energy," McKean said.
“We expect them to be in place, I'm hoping, by the end of this year, maybe before snow flies," Tom Blair, leader of the department's Road to Tomorrow Initiative, told The Kansas City Star, adding that the project could bring “the history and the future together."
Solar Roadways' own 2014 crowdfunding campaign generated $2.2 million, doubling their $1 million target. The project has also received three funding contracts from the U.S. Department of Transportation, with their latest contract awarded in November 2015. In April, the Idaho Department of Commerce approved a $48,734 grant to set up a Solar Roadways demonstration project within the city limits of the Brusaw's hometown of Sandpoint.
Blair said that the department will prepare its first-ever crowdfunding effort to "ask for money to make our solar roadway pilot project even bigger and better."
Scott Brusaw describes the technology behind the solar panels in the video below. Besides creating renewable electricity, the panels feature LED lights to create lines and signage without paint and to improve nighttime driving. Since the hexagonal panels are modular, it allows for easy repairs since a broken panel can just be swapped with a new one.
The Solar Roadways program is one of MoDOT's several pilot schemes to promote transportation technology in the state. Other schemes include smart pavement, smart traffic control and truck platooning, which connects commercial trucks via wireless technology and thus allow trucks to follow at a close distance for better fuel economy and enhanced safety.
“It gets Missouri and MoDOT prepared for 21st century innovations," Blair said. “We need to get in the game as a state and as an agency."
Missouri is not the only one wanting to ride on the sun. SolaRoad has been in operation in the Netherlands since November 2014, and has been generating more power than expected. The French government also plans to pave 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of its roads with solar panels in the next five years, which will supply power to millions of people.
“The maximum effect of the program, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8 percent of the French population," Ségolène Royal, France's minister of ecology and energy, said according to Global Construction Review.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.