Photo courtesy of www.solarroadways.com
If you're into the alternative energy scene, you've probably seen the "Solar Freakin' Roadways" video floating around social networks. While the video is fun and humorous, the invention itself is genius. The idea behind solar roadways is to solve multiple issues at once – rising energy costs, CO2 emissions, road safety and telephone poles, to name a few. How will solar roadways do this? Well, let's break this down a little.
Solar roadways are smart, micro-processing, interlocking hexagonal solar panels invented by Julie and Scott Brusaw. They are heated, pressure sensitive and chock full of programmable LED lights. They are multi-layered and are full of internet and phone cables on one level. On another level, they capture and filter storm water before, theoretically, sending it off to a treatment plant. Now that we have that down, let's dive a little deeper.
Rising energy costs – The cost of energy has been on an upward trend for quite some time. Solar energy is renewable. By the time we run out of it, we'll have a lot more to deal with than energy costs. Therefore, it is cheaper.
CO2 emissions – Solar roadways are estimated to cut greenhouse gasses by 75%. It is also estimated that if all of the United States' roads were replaced with solar roadways, it would produce three times as much energy as the United States currently consumes, so we won't come up short on power generation.
Road safety – Because solar roadways heat up, they are capable of melting snow. Along with that, they will improve visibility and their LED lights can be programmed to provide warnings. They are also pressure sensitive meaning that you could program them to warn a driver if a boulder or animal is blocking the road ahead.
Telephone poles – Since solar roadways are tethered with internet and telephone wires, they will make telephone poles obsolete. This means that the roadside will be prettier and we would no longer have to worry about those eyesore telephone poles falling.
Aren't solar roadways a genius idea? That's probably why their indegogo campaign raised $2,200,591 in about two months. That's 220% of what their goal was! The Brusaws already have two working prototypes and have received a lot of much deserved attention. The prototypes were actually funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The Brusaws were also invited to the first ever Maker Faire at the White House, an event celebrating innovators who are using cutting-edge technology to bring ideas to life. On top of that, they won a bunch of awards.
If solar roadways were made an abundant reality, it would change the way we generate energy forever. Let's hope the already excellent prototypes only continue to get better.