New “solar road” can power America – – Your online Northern Arizona news source

In a recent press release, Solar Roadways, a company based out of Idaho, was awarded $100,000 to produce a prototype. Their name gives away what they plan on producing: roads that function as solar panels, and so much more.

The monetary award was given after Solar Roadways presented their designs to the Department of Transportation. The designs are also one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. 

The roads are designed with three layers: the base-plate layer will use a series of cables to transmit power and data signals; the electronics layer will carry the solar-collecting and storage cells, along with a series of LED lights that will function like the paint we have on our roads now; and the top layer will consist of glass textured to provide the same level of traction that asphalt does. 

According to their website, the United States currently has 25,000 square miles of roads, highways and the like. If the 25,000 square miles were to be replaced by Solar Roadways, they would produce three times the United States’ current electricity consumption, or nearly what the entire world consumes on a yearly basis. The estimate assumes a 15 percent efficiency rating for the solar panels (though more efficient solar-collecting technology exists). 

I’m not saying this wouldn’t be one hell of an undertaking, but the benefits seem to far outweigh the costs and difficulties of replacing current asphalt roads, parking lots, etc., with solar roadways. 

Solar Roadways plans to produce their roads for what asphalt currently costs. However, the projected lifespan of a solar roadway is 21 years — three times that of asphalt roads. Having a decentralized power grid makes it virtually impossible for large-scale power outages, as well as being more secure and safe than relying on nuclear or coal power plants, which produce a majority of America’s electricity. 

The United States should begin replacing old, worn asphalt roads with solar roads. If the prototype works as planned, we can all be living with electricity that is produced and used in a completely green, sustainable fashion.

On top of this, the LED lights will provide safer night driving. In one case in Britain, LEDs were used on a particularly curvy mountain area, reducing accidents by 70 percent. The LEDs can also warn drivers to slow down if there are nasty weather conditions, or if there is an animal on the road. The panels will also have built-in heaters, eliminating the need to plow roads. 

What Solar Roadways has to offer? No increase in cost, a decentralized power system, fewer accidents and an LED system that will illuminate lane lines far in advance and warn drivers to any upcoming danger. We, as a nation, cannot afford to continue driving on asphalt roads.

Solar Roadways has an amazing idea, and they deserve our support.

If this technology is as good as claimed, surely our energy needs can be satisfied in no time. Is this the ultimate global warming solution?


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