Anyone who's taken a road trip knows how intensely the sun can beat down on the roadway. Could all those rays be converted to solar power?
Scott and Julie Brusaw said yes. This husband and wife team are the founders of Idaho-based company Solar Roadways. They created a system of solar panels coated with bulletproof glass that can replace pavement. It's not an unprecedented idea: both the Netherlands and France are researching solar roadways. But they have not yet been tried in the U.S.
The Brusaws just installed their first pilot project in Sandpoint, Idaho. And they are working with the Missouri Department of Transportation on a project at a rest stop on Route 66.
Brusaw: "We're hoping to be mass-manufacturing toward the end of next year and I expect to see them on residential roads probably in two to three years."
Skeptics worry about the durability of the panels and also the expense of producing and maintaining them.
But the Brusaws said the roads will pay for themselves over time by generating clean energy that can be delivered and sold to consumers.
Roads hold tremendous potential as sources of clean power. For example, the Brusaws said if every road in the U.S. was made of solar panels, we could produce three times more energy than we use as a country.