With pollution awareness rising, people are wonder­ing where a new, cleaner source of energy will come from. Many have turned to solar power as an alternative. After all, it makes sense to use the most abundant source of power in our solar system as an en­ergy source. That’s exactly what Scott and Julie Brusaw have proposed with their new idea, called Solar Roadways.

This idea, as you may have de­duced, involves replacing the entire­ty of America’s road infrastructure with one-meter-wide hexagonal, glass covered solar panels. These solar hex panels are supposedly capable of lighting up LED lights that would eliminate the need for painted fog lines on roads. They also claim that they have a special polymer glass sur­face that has met all impact, traction, and pressure requirements.

As a whole this idea sounds amaz­ing. If it works it would supply the entire U.S. power grid with electric­ity and also allow for a wireless, pro­grammable roadway that could inter­act with drivers. Yet, sadly, not all of these claims have been verified by the DOT (Department of Transporta­tion), one of Solar Roadway’s con­tributors. The project has raised more than $2.2 million after the premier of their promotional video on YouTube. This more than doubled their cam­paign goal.

Despite this great headway, the Solar Roadway Company has yet to provide solid data on electrical output or the durability of their panels since 2006. Many solar panel buffs and en­gineers have criticized their ideas, stating that the amount of money simply for the glass covering the pan­els alone would cost more than $20 trillion. That is more than 10 times the annual federal budget.

The cost setback is not the only thing that has experts cringing. As­phalt, the material that is currently used for roads, has many properties that make it an ideal roadway that solar roadways lack. For starters, hav­ing thousands of hexagonal tiles as a roadway would lead to cracks and leaks in the roadway that would even­tually erode the streets. In addition, Solar Roadway’s claim that these pan­els have met all standard require­ments is a huge overstatement. The DOT even stated that they will need to run these panels through more tests before a statement can even be made on their viability.

The idea of utilizing unused space for solar power is not a new one. In the solar industry it is called distrib­uted generation. It’s not a bad thing that new companies are looking into ways that we can generate renewable energy. In fact, it is encouraging to see $2.2 million being raised to fund such projects. However, it is impor­tant that these projects are actually viable. There are hundreds of other progressive solar companies out there that are creating more stable, working models.

While it may seem easier to donate money to an optimistic campaign like Solar Roadways, it would be far more prudent and practical to invest mon­ey in the stocks of dynamic, innova­tive solar companies that are already making new advances in solar tech­nology.

 

For more information on progressive solar and alternative energy companies in need of help, visit enfsolar.com

ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXA CALDER
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