Renewable energy generation is increasing in popularity, with about 13 percent of electricity generation coming from renewable sources in 2015. While green energy is growing in the United States, utilities and businesses are continuing to look for ways to improve upon clean energy generation. This is especially true for the state of California.
In 2011, Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles proposed piezoelectric projects on California freeways, but Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the piece of legislation due to funding. However, the California Energy Commission was asked by Gatto to further research this project and has now announced it will fund multiple projects throughout the state.
What is piezoelectric technology?
In short, piezoelectric technology is the generation of electricity from applied pressure. Piezoelectric roads use this type of energy generation by placing these generators within roads. When cars drive across the road, energy transfers by vibrating the piezoelectric generators.
Electric crystals within the generators, when not in use, are stable or balanced. When pressure is applied, or when a vehicle drives across the generators, the crystals within the piezoelectric generators are squeezed, forcing the electric crystals out of balance. When squeezed out of balance, a charge is created and voltage is produced.
How effective is this type of energy generation?
As stated by EcoWatch, scientists estimate that a 10-mile stretch of freeway in California with piezoelectric generators could provide enough electricity to power the entire city of Burbank. In fact, this technology has been in use in other countries for a few years, generating energy to power lighting and displays at dance clubs and railway stations. What makes this type of generation so attractive is, in addition to its renewable quality, its ability to produce electricity cheaper than current technology. The California Energy Commission estimates that piezoelectric generators can produce electricity between $0.08 and $0.20 per kWh.