Solar energy roadways could be the future

May 27, 2014 0 By Amanda Giasson

A couple from Idaho wants to use solar cells to pave parking lots, roads and walkways.

Scott and Julie Brusaw have co-founded and co-invented solar energy project, Solar Roadways, an Idaho-based startup that could lead to roads, driveways, parks, parking lots and virtually any paved area being replaced with solar panels that light up.

The dream is to power America using solar power without solar farms or wires.

The Brusaw’s discovered that the United States has more than 72,000 square kilometers of surfaces made of concrete and asphalt, which receive sun exposure. According to Scott Brusaw, if they could use their hexagonal shaped solar road panels on these surfaces, they could generate more than three times the amount of energy that is used by the nation. This would allow the country to rely on renewable energy in place of coal.

Scot Brusaw, an electrical engineer, has stated that each hexagon solar panel features six sides and are angled at 45 degrees, turning it into a prism. “No matter where the sun is in the sky, it bends that light down on the solar cells. And our LEDs are underneath those hexagons, so the LED lights emanate out six different directions so you can’t miss them,” he said.

The couple’s latest prototype, which is a Solar Roadways parking lot built next to their electronic lab, has been successfully tested. The heat produced by the solar panels have managed to prevent ice and snow from accumulating over the winter and have generated the level of energy that was anticipated. The parking lot is “equivalent to a 3600W solar array”.

The panels can withstand the weight of heavy vehicles, holding up to 125 tons without breaking. Moreover, the textured surface, even when wet, is safe for vehicles, providing sufficient traction. Beneath the panels there are also multicolored LED lights that enable transport authorities to display a diverse range of traffic lines, symbols, etc.

The Brusaw’s solar energy project has received huge support and funding.

Solar Roadways has already received funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHA) on two separate occasions to help them build pilot projects and prototypes. Furthermore, their company has also been selected by Google for Google’s Moonshots program.

In addition to these funds, the Idaho couple created a crowdsourcing campaign on Indiegogo with a $1 million goal to further the production of their solar energy panels. They started the campaign on April 22, 2014 (Earth Day) and have recently met and exceeded their million dollar goal. The campaign runs until May 31, 2014.

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