With nearly 18,000 square-miles of road winding it’s way across the US, the Solar Roadways project wants to change the way we think about energy.
With US roads covering an area equivalent to the size Massachusetts, the Solar Roadways project asks a question seemingly no one else has: If this asphalt is soaking up the sun all day, why not use it to generate energy?
Having developed custom, glass-covered panels, the company hopes to repave existing roadways throughout the US. The solar panels, which are durable enough to withstand up to 250,000 lbs. worth of weight, have a number of features not feasible with a current asphalt road. On top of generating energy throughout the day, the solar panels have been developed with a number of LED lights embedded within them. This would allow lanes to be lit up, have warning messages be displayed to drivers, etc. The Solar Roadways group have also embedded small heating devices within the panels themselves, which would allow for the melting of snow and ice, thus eliminating the use of costly, and environmentally harmful, salt. Designed with a textured surface, the solar panels also offer the same amount of traction as a traditional road.
The system also benefits from being modular and easy to repair, due to the fact it’s networked together. If one panel were to fail, the panels around it would send a message to the local municipality, who could then send someone out to replace said panel. Estimated time to replace a panel is only five minutes, which is much faster than a traditional pot-hole repair.
Currently hoping to raise $1 million via an Indiegogo campaign, the company plans to hire more engineers to continue refining their product. They also plan to start testing it on parking lots and small roads, before turning to the countries highway network.