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Solving Climate Change with Solar Roads

solar roadway

Climate change is still one of the biggest challenges we have yet to overcome in the coming years, and everyone will be looking towards young students to lead the charge in finding solutions. One such solution is getting energy through solar power. But are solar panels on roofs enough to cut down on emissions and help slow down the effects of climate change?

Well, one small company has come up with an out-of-the-box solution that would not only fight climate change, but would also power most of the country without using foreign oil. The US-based company Solar Roadways has developed solar panels… for our roads. Check out this video on their website to see how these panels work.

Started by Scott and Julie Brusaw in 2006, Solar Roadways has engineered these hexagonal glass solar panels studded with LED lights that could be used to store energy from the sun, reports IFL These panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, playgrounds and sidewalks. The Brusaw’s see this as a great opportunity for both businesses and homeowners as the energy generated from driveways and parking lots could be used to power buildings, and any excess can be sold back to the grid.

Glass panels replacing our roads may sound like a bit of a stretch, but the panels have withstood even the heaviest of trucks during the testing. They also contain heating elements to melt ice and snow, and so are ideal in winter conditions. LED lights could make road lines and signs more visible at night, which have been shown to reduce accidents, and the surface of these panels could also be used to charge electric vehicles!

But the biggest impact that these panels could have is their ability to combat climate change. There’s approximately 31,000 square miles of usable surfaces in the US, according to the team’s calculations. If all of these were covered with the Solar Roadway’s system, it could produce over three times the electricity that is used by the entire country. That’s an incredible potential that could lead to a huge decrease in dependence on foreign oil and would also cut CO2 emissions by a considerable amount.

Obviously, this project is a long way from becoming a reality in this country, but it is a sign that engineering solutions to real life problems can be possible. We’ve mentioned before on the blog that renewable energy could be a breakthrough in solving climate change. These solar road panels may sound like a stretch today, but innovative technologies like this are the first step towards making solutions.

Photo credit: Dan Walden/Scott Bursaw via CNN

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2 Responses

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  1. Go Travel says

    I saw this project back when it was green lighted back in 09. Glad to see it come from idea to concept. I think it would be awesome to have the road in front of you to act as a vehicle message system. Your car could communicate with the road, and transmit gps data so that you don’t have to take your eyes off of the road. It could also serve as a warning system for accidents, Amber Alerts, etc. the replacement cost would be long term beneficial, not to mention the savings on salt and maintenance. If it also sent power to the local grid and eased dependence on fossil fuels it would be a huge step toward energy independence.

    • admin says

      Alex, we completely agree. Obviously, there’s a lot that would need to happen for this to see viable use around the country, but even the thought of it replacing a few stretches of highway is very exciting. It may be a while before we really see any of this in action, but in any case, we’re glad to see folks blazing the way with innovative solutions like these.

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