A few months ago, an Indiegogo online fundraising campaign called Solar Roadways caught the attention of millions of Americans when they exceeded their fundraising goals by a sizable amount. Solar Roadways’ goal was to raise 1 million dollars, but actually brought in more than 2.2 million dollars. The idea of building solar roadways to replace traditional asphalt roads seems like a concept out of The Jetsons, but Solar Roadways, Inc. founder Scott Brusaw showed the U.S. and the world just how it can be done with his viral Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways YouTube video. Brusaw’s idea is very complex with many factors at play, but it has the potential to change the way we think about energy sources and roads.
Solar Roadways, Inc. (SRI) began in 2009 when they received a contract from the Federal Highway Administration (FTA) to break ground on a prototype of the road. Since then the federal government has invested $850,000 in the concept. Beginning as a prototype in Sandpoint, Idaho, Brusaw drew up plans to replace parking lots, residential roads, highways, tarmacs, playgrounds, and sidewalks throughout the U.S. with this technology. If successful, this plan will improve telecommunication systems, road conditions, and accident preventions in communities across the U.S.
In order to compete with the growing technology of communities, solar roadways were adapted as smart systems. They have the ability to hold power, internet, and fiber optic cables in the cable corridor of the road, cutting the risk of fallen wires and power outages while increasing energy security. These roads are designed to charge electrical vehicles in convenient places like fast food parking lots or even while driving, using energy generated by the sun instead of fossil fuels.
Despite the concerns for limited traction and slippery roads, solar roadways will actually improve road conditions affected by foul weather. Roads are made of a bomb-resistant glass and are equipped to handle up to 250,000 lbs. of cargo. As many cities witnessed last winter, ice and snow buildup on highways can cause massive traffic jams and accidents. In addition, the cleaning process for snow and ice removal can be a time consuming and costly procedure. To mitigate this problem, solar roadways are equipped with heating fixtures inside each solar unit that keep the surface a few degrees above freezing to prevent the accumulation of snow and ice. By establishing these solar roadways, communities could avoid life threatening situations and be able to use tax dollars, usually spent on salt trucks, to improve other areas of the community.
Another unique feature of solar roadways are the LED lights imbedded in the surface that act as warning signs, increasing safety for cars at night. Additionally, solar roadway units are equipped with pressure sensors that determine if a large object – like a fallen tree, boulder, or animal – is on the road and can alert upcoming vehicles. By improving accident rates in an area, solar roadways will help communities improve driving conditions and overall livability.
If the idea of solar roadways comes to fruition, the results could be impressive. There would be increased job creation in the construction industry, reduced pollution and reliance on fossil fuels, and potentially safer, smarter roadways. SRI is moving forward with the campaign money it raised to bring solar roadways to a town near you. To that end, there are questions that need to be addressed. How much will solar roadways cost? How reliable will they be? For more on Solar Roadways, Inc. click HERE.