Will These Solar Roadways Change The World?


Because of global warming and the possibility of energy shortages in the future due to increasing demand, the energy issue is a very important matter nowadays. It has taken on even greater significance since the Kyoto protocol in 1997, when many countries around the world committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We all know we consume a lot more energy than we should. However, countries rely on a high level of energy consumption to create social and economic development – it’s a tricky situation. That’s where efficient use of energy and renewable sources comes in. Technology available today offers a wide variety of eco-solutions: roads and other surfaces powered by solar energy are a very interesting example. Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds, etc. It pays for itself over its life span, reduces dependency on fossil fuels, is environmentally friendly and helps create more jobs, among many other benefits. Below: Meet the inventors of Solar Raodways So why aren’t the panels already installed on every road on the planet? Well, there are many barriers that make the use of renewable energy more difficult. The technology Solar Roadways is a very clever and efficient system that generates clean and cheap energy. The panels can also be used as heating elements to keep roadways snow and ice free and can power LEDs for road lines and signs. The technology also makes it possible for EVs to charge from parking lots and driveways. The glass surface is surprisingly resistant: It has been tested for traction, load, and impact in laboratories, exceeding all requirements. For instance, the panels can withstand an impressive 250,000 pounds (the weight of a heavy truck)! Below: A very funny promotional video for Solar freakin’ Roadways Solar Roadways was selected as finalist in the World Technology Award For Energy in 2013. It was also chosen by Google to be one of its Moonshots, chosen as a finalist in the IEEE Ace Awards in 2009 and 2010. It has also 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 many others. Energy policy barriers We can’t talk about renewable energy and efficiency without mentioning a bit of energy policy. Don’t be put off by this economical and political talk — this is a very important subject we all have to be aware of (landscape architects included). We are becoming more efficient, and this is a worldwide trend, but many barriers still hold us back from a more sustainable future, unfortunately. Renewable energy still contributes very little to electricity generation, only about 18 percent of total global production. This scene will hopefully change in the near future as some technologies, such as Solar Roadways, reach the commercialization stage. It is very important to diversify energy sources; therefore, renewable technologies will be crucial in developing sustainable energy. The problem is, despite the huge potential in some countries, there are still economical, technological, and political obstacles, such as the attitude of decision-makers toward this matter and information gaps. Below: Taking the weight of common Farm yard tractor Renewables and energy efficiency The expansion of renewable energy would bring many benefits: It is plentiful, secure, sustainable, cheap, and non-polluting. Solar Roadways is a creative and efficient example. But the competitiveness of renewable sources relies heavily on policy initiatives. As landscape architects, we have to be aware of the importance of new renewable technologies, supporting them with an energy-efficient approach when designing toward a cleaner and more sustainable future. ———– Solar Roadways is in the midst of an Indiegogo crowdsourcing campaign to raise funding for the production of its solar panels. The campaign started on Earth Day (April 22) and ends May 31. You can donate and help the company reach its goal of $1,000,000 at: Solar Roadways Article written by Julia Lucchese Featured image: Print screen Youtube

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