Friday, September 11, 2009

Wow. Just wow.

An Idaho-based startup, Solar Roadways will build a prototype roadway composed of panels of solar cells and glass. The captured energy could be used to both light the roadway and provide electricity to the power grid.

The 12' x 12' panels cost $6,900. Each panel generates an estimated 7.6 kilowatt hours of power each day. If this electricity were pumped into the grid, a four lane one mile stretch of road would generate enough power for 500 homes. Covering the entire US interstate highway system could theoretically fulfil the country’s total energy needs. The company estimates that this would take 5 billion panels, but could produce 3 times more power than the US currently uses. It gets better.

The panels contain embedded LED lights that paint the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving. The LEDs could also be programmed to alert drivers of detours or road construction ahead, and can even sense wildlife on the road and warn drivers to slow down. The roads could also contain embedded heating elements to prevent snow and ice from forming. Plus, in the future, fully electric vehicles could recharge alongside the roadway and in parking lots, making electric cars more practical for longer trips.

If enough resources could be brought to bear on this type of technology and bring the price of manufacturing these panels down, it could revolutionize roads.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This a totally cool idea!
A smart, practical and visionary way to solve so many problems. Of course it will probably never happen in this country. Short sightedness seems to be the American way. (sigh)