Are Solar Roadways the Future of Transportation?

By on June 17, 2014

Solar Roadways are all over the news right now, garnering praise (and money!) from people across the globe. But like any great idea in its early stages, there are plenty of nay-sayers out there, too. Are these entrepreneurs on to something revolutionary, or are solar-powered roads nothing more than a well-researched flight of fancy?

Solar Roadways: The Idea

Julie and Scott Brusaw are the co-founders and co-inventors of Solar Roadways and they believe they’re on to something huge. Scott is an electrical engineer and Julie is a professional psychological counselor and therapist. They met when they were very young (3 and 4!) and from early on, Scott had dreams of electric roadways. All his life, Scott thought about and worked on his childhood idea and for years they’ve worked together as a team on the concept of a Solar Roadway System.

And now, after so much dreaming, planning, and designing, the two are ready to manufacture their idea into reality.

Solar Roadways aims at replacing existing highways, biways and roads with hexagonal solar-powered panels that continually draw power from the sun.

The plates are made of hard, tempered glass and can easily resist the pressures and weight of individual vehicles driving over them. They would collect and store incredible amounts of energy to not only operate the roadways’ special features but also provide clean power to communities.

So what are these special features?

  • Incorporated heating elements to melt snow that covers the roads
  • LED lights to power white and yellow highway lines
  • Lights can also be used to post speed limits, warnings and parking spaces
  • Pressurized plates can light up the road when an animal is crossing it

Sounds phenomenal, doesn’t it? Well, most people think so. But there are those who have questions yet unanswered…

Solar Roadways: The Potential Problems

There are worries about Solar Roadways. Enough to halt progress on the manufacture of these fantastic-sounding plates? Probably not. But certainly enough that they can’t go unrecognized.

What About Snow Plows? Sure, the heating elements could melt standing snow, but what about during a storm? Are they high-powered enough to maintain a continual blizzard? And what about the water run-off–where does that go? Also, if snow plows are needed to clear away drifts that the heating elements can’t handle, will those harm the plates?

What About Constant Heavy Use? There are videos that show how these plates can stand up to tractors and other heavy vehicles, but will they be able to take the abuse from a constant flow of heavy traffic from semis and tractor trailers and RVs and the like?

What About Broken Plates? If plates become damaged, what kind of response time is needed to fix them? Will they be able to be replaced quickly enough if the particular damaged plate is, for instance, one showing speed limits or highways lines?

There are plenty of questions, but overall, this still seems like an incredible idea that may just revolutionize the future of global transportation.

Solar Roadways: The Future

Solar Roadways is currently crowd-sourcing funds for manufacture through Indiegogo. As of this writing, they’ve already raised $840,000 of their $1,000,000 goal, receiving donations from more than 19,000 supporters. If that’s not a great start, then we here at Motor Guides don’t know what a great start is.

And don’t for a moment think this is just a pipe dream that’s gone into production without some serious forethought. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has already given two phases of funding to Solar Roadways for development and research.

They’ve also won countless awards, been the subject of segments from some of the biggest news outlets in the world, and given several presentations to such prestigious organizations as TED, NASA, and Google.

These people know what they’re doing. And they continue to get more and more press as they near their goal and the reality of their dream come true.

To support Solar Roadways’ Indiegogo campaign, visit this link.

What do you think about Solar Roadways? Does this seem like a good idea to you or a bad one? And either way, do you think it’s a feasible one? Let’s hear it in the comments below!

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