Scott and Julie Brusaw, an electrical engineer and a counselor in private practice, have created a modular paving system of solar panels they envision using to replace entire cities' paved streets. Despite having glass surfaces, the panels can withstand 250,000 pound loads and exceed all civil engineering test requirements for traction and impact resistance. When installed they absorb solar energy and convert it to electricity that can power adjacent homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots, essentially paying for themselves. The solar panels also have built-in heating elements that melt snow and ice to keep roads clear all winter long, LEDs to create instant road lines and signage, and an attached Cable Corridor for the storage and treatment of storm water. And if you believe all that...I've got a Solar Roadway to sell you. Or at least an opportunity to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign that could lay the company's first panels on US streets.
The Brusaws believe that a nationwide system of Solar Roadways can generate more clean, renewable energy than the entire country needs to power our buildings and infrastructure. They have already received 2 phases of funding from the US Federal Highway Administration, the second of which went towards the research and development of a prototype parking lot, and is about to conclude. Now Solar Roadways is raising funds for that parking lot's production.
In addition to the energy they collect, safe driving conditions they preserve, and storm water they channel and clean, Solar Roadways' modular panel system has been designed to improve the flow of traffic by reducing the pervasiveness of roadwork. Rather than shutting down streets to dig up and repour asphalt, the solar panels simply remove section by section for replacement, repair, or access to underlying utilities.
Admittedly, any large scale execution of replacing our existing roads with Solar Roadways is years, possibly decades, down the line. But for the visionaries out there looking to support green solutions, next-generation technologies, progress or, in my case, never shoveling snow again, pledge anywhere from $5 to $10,000 on Indiegogo through May 31, 2014. Perks for backers range from personal thank yous to mugs and bumper stickers to solar cell pendants and glass hexagons made of the same material as the top layer of Solar Road panels.