Solar Roadways Working to Turn Roads into Solar Panels
Anyone who’s tried walking barefoot on asphalt during a sunny day knows that turning roads into solar panels makes sense. Solar Roadways recently received a $100,000 grant from the US Department of Transportation to further develop its Solar Road Panel concept.
The Solar Road Panel is simply the addition of glass, LED lights, and solar panels on top of standard road concrete. It’s meant to replace asphalt, currently used to smoothen out roads for ride comfort and noise reduction.
What makes Solar Roadways’ concept even more interesting are the embedded LED lights, which would allow the road to dynamically change lane markings, traffic flow instructions, and the like. And, given the low power consumption of LEDs, they can draw power from the solar panels itself. As each panel reportedly generates 7.6 kilowatts of power a day, enough juice will probably be left over.
Solar Roadways is pretty upfront about the cost: each 12-foot square solar road panel apparently costs around $6,900 to construct (and it’s not clear if that includes installation). But if a four-lane one-mile stretch of these panels can indeed produce enough electricity to power 500 homes—as promised by Solar Roadways—then that’s a worthy expense.
The reliance of solar power on constant sunshine notwithstanding, it’s also reasonable to assume that these road panels can generate enough power to drive electric vehicles, right?