Solar Roadways: Sustainable Energy?
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
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