Could highways become power plants?
That’s question an innovative company is trying to answer using solar panels, and that plan is going viral.
The US has more than 160,000 miles of highway just sitting there.
Julie and Scott Brusaw have an idea that would actually turn roads into power generators.
Solar freakin’ roadways.
The couple wants to cover concrete and asphalt with solar panels that would not only light up, but would also generate electricity, melt snow, and charge electric vehicles.
They’ve created a series of hexagonal panels that consists of solar cells sandwiched between plates of durable glass.
The cells transform solar energy into electricity that can either be sent directly to the power grid or stored in batteries.
As radical as it sounds, people are actually taking this seriously.
The Department of Transportation has kicked in 850-thousand dollars, and the company has also received over 1.6 million in crowd funding, and a town in Idaho is looking to secure a federal grant to test the roads in their downtown area.
It’s a cool idea for sure, but it’s going to be a while until we’re actually driving on these things.
The government still needs to test the roads for durability, maintenance issues, and how things like weather actually impact the panels.
Then, there’s the money. For 2014, the federal government’s budget is about 38-billion dollars to maintain the nation’s roads and bridges.
At the moment, there’s no real estimate of what it would cost to lay down solar roads, but its creators say, it doesn’t really matter how much they cost when you consider that their roads could generate three times the us electricity demand per year.
For now though, asphalt still reigns, potholes and all.