Solar freakin’ roadways

Solar Roadways has raised $1,884,633 in six weeks from Earth Day to now on a goal of $1,000,000 in indiegogo (which was already a record for most contributors with 36,000 people at $1.5 million). Yes, to all those who have asked me, I think it could work. Add solar roadways to rooftop solar and solar farms and wind, and the EPA’s new CO2 rule (which doesn’t even do much about coal for years and does nothing about about “natural” gas) will seem like a quaint baby step in a few years after this happens:

Everyone has power. No more power shortages, no more roaming power outages, no more need to burn coal (50% of greenhouse gases). Less need for fossil fuels and less dependency upon foreign oil. Much less pollution. How about this for a long term advantage: an electric road allows all-electric vehicles to recharge anywhere: rest stops, parking lots, etc. They would then have the same range as a gasoline-powered vehicle. Internal combustion engines would become obsolete. Our dependency on oil would come to an abrupt end.

Scott Brusaw’s TEDx talk includes engineering solar roads to deal with stormwater better, double-purposing the cable channels they have to have anyway to transmit the generated electricity. That could help with the flooding problem we have around here. And he talks about making road support structures out of recycled landfill trash. If they can work out how to do that without it leaching into that stormwater, it would be a better solution than piling up trash on top of an aquifer recharge zone like we do now.

Here are some reasons I think solar roadways could work:

Did you know:

  • Solar Roadways has received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development of a paving system that will pay for itself over its lifespan. We are about to wrap up our Phase II contract (to build a prototype parking lot) and now need to raise funding for production.
  • Our glass surface has been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance testing in civil engineering laboratories around the country, and exceeded all requirements.
  • Solar Roadways is a modular system that will modernize our aging infrastructure with an intelligent system that can become the new Smart Grid. We won the Community Award of $50,000 by getting the most votes in GE’s Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Grid” in 2010. We had the most votes again in their 2011 Ecomagination Challenge for “Powering the Home”.
  • On August 21, 2013, Solar Roadways was selected by their peers as a Finalist in the World Technology Award For Energy, presented in association with TIME, Fortune, CNN, and Science.
  • Solar Roadways was chosen by Google to be one of their Moonshots in May of 2013. Solar Roadways was chosen as a finalist in the IEEE Ace Awards in 2009 and 2010.
  • Solar Roadways has given presentations around the country including: TEDx Sacramento, Google’s Solve for X at Google’s NYC Headquarters, NASA, Keynote Speaker for the International Parking Institute’s Conference and much more…
  • Solar Roadways is tackling more than solar energy: The FHWA tasked us with addressing the problem of stormwater. Currently, over 50% of the pollution in U.S. waterways comes from stormwater. We have created a section in our Cable Corridors for storing, treating, and moving stormwater.
  • The implementation of our concept on a grand scale could create thousands of jobs in the U.S. and around the world. It could allow us all the ability to manufacture our way out of our current economic crisis.

As I mentioned at the Southern Company stockholder meeting (video still to come from SO), if big utilities like SO don’t get moving on solar and wind power through a smart grid, the Google of that new industry may well be Google itself. And Google already recognized Solar Roadways as a Moonshot worth taking.

Are Scott and Julie Brusaw the Wright Brothers of a solar smart grid? I don’t know. If one man, Elon Musk, can successfully deploy affordable space travel (SpaceX), finance-to-installation solar panels (Solar City), and electric cars (Tesla), maybe one couple can successfully deploy solar roadways. Obscure science fiction reference: If Elon Musk is D.D. Harriman (the man who sold the moon), maybe the Brusaws are Archibald Douglas and Mary Lou Martin (inventors of a process that popularized solar power).

A couple of million dollars to find out if Solar Roadways work is dirt cheap compared to more than $3 billion dollars for an unneeded, hazardous, land-grabbing fracked methane pipeline or more than $8.3 billion for a couple more white-elephant nukes sucking up more water from the Savannah River than the city of Savannah uses. Solar Freakin’ Roadways could do even better than not using any water to generate power: they could help save stormwater while generating power and recycling landfill garbage.

Solar roads must roll. Go Brusaws!