In a world that eagerly seeks alternative energy sources, the concept for a Solar Roadway seems to be one of the possible ways to harness solar energy for everyday purposes. Put to practice it should give us an intelligent road capable of providing clean renewable energy, and at the same time allowing for safer driving conditions. Besides providing power it would also provide data delivery. This solar roadway should be able to pay for itself through the generation of electricity, but also from other forms of revenue, such as leasing to service providers like telephone, cable TV, and high-speed internet industries.
In a nutshell, the Solar Roadway consists of a series of structurally-engineered solar panels on which vehicles can be driven. Each panel is made up of three basic layers. The road surface layer contains the solar collector cells embedded within and protects the electronics beneath it, and is engineered to provide good traction for the vehicles. The electronics layer collects the energy form the sun and contains a microprocessor board with support circuitry for sensing loads on the surface, controlling a heating element, lighting, communications, etc. And the base plate layer protects the electronics layer and distributes power and data signals “down-line” to all homes and business connected to the Solar Roadway.
With a microprocessor located every 12 feet, any problem would be immediately detected since Solar Road Panels communicate with each other. If one of them stopped communicating, it would mean something was amiss and had to be checked. But the adjoining panels could still communicate and send the information to a central control station. The energy collected would simply move through a different path.
With a solar roadway you should have a decentralized grid, which would greatly benefit the use of solar powered vehicles as they could be recharged at any convenient stop. Cars could be plugged in and recharged while the drivers were eating or shopping, and they would always have enough charge because charging posts would be available everywhere.
It is estimated that by replacing all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels, which collect energy to be used by our homes and businesses, the Solar Roadway would hugely benefit the environment and people’s lives. The solar roadway would become the power grid itself, eliminating the need for utility poles and relay stations, since power would be generated everywhere. Plus, the excess energy collected by this roadway would be stored for use when sunlight is absent and thus replace the need for the current fossil fuels used for the generation of electricity. It would also cut greenhouse gases literally in half, reducing humankind’s carbon footprint.
So, is the solar roadway a viable energy source? It definitely is, provided the appropriate investments are made.