Solar Roadways: Route of the Future?
If you’ve browsed news headlines recently, you’ve probably noticed that solar power has become a hot topic of discussion. A new project called Solar Roadways has taken the world by storm with an idea that would revolutionize the way we drive. The campaign pushes the US to cover roads with intuitive solar panels that will generate electricity for surrounding homes and businesses.
Solar Roadways initially aimed to raise $1 million between Earth Day and the end of May 2014 via the crowdfunding website IndieGogo. The campaign greatly exceeded its own expectations, pulling in over $2.2 million and becoming IndieGogo’s most popular campaign to date. Julie and Scott Brusaw, the Idaho couple behind the project, seek to upgrade our traditional paved roads with solar road panels made out of tempered glass that would generate clean energy, melt snow and ice, and communicate traffic information to drivers.
The project has obviously gained an overwhelming amount of support, with over 48,000 people donating to the cause. It has also sparked a lot of discussions surrounding solar power and the future of sustainable energy.
If Solar Roadways breaks ground, the positive impact could be enormous. The Brusaws estimate that the panels could help the US cut greenhouse gasses by 75 percent. Solar powered roads would clearly be more energy efficient and sustainable than our current paved road system. It’s estimated that covering even ⅓ of our roads in solar panels would provide 100 percent of the country’s electricity. This would also be a method for generating revenue, not to mention the thousands of jobs the project would create.
Critics of Solar Roadways have questioned whether the cost and scale of the project make it a possibility at this time. Some have also doubted the durability of the tempered glass panels, worrying they would break under the weight of heavy cargo. However, the co-founders state that the prototypes can withstand 250,000 lbs, more than three times the limit for semi-trucks.
Most experts acknowledge that green solutions save an abundance of money and resources over time, and in the past few decades solar energy has exploded in popularity. Even in our own line of work, we have seen more and more home and business owners seeking out solar power. No matter what the pros and cons of the Solar Roadways project are, two things are certainly clear: solar power is the way of the future, and the public is ready for it.