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Solar Roads Fix The Grid And Crumbling Pavement

/5th April 2013, By Keith Barry/ A revolutionary idea that converts existing roadways into a national solar power grid is up for a major cash prize. Scott Brusaw (shown above) is working on a project to encapsulate solar panels in high-strength glass capable of standing up to thousands of cars and trucks passing by each day.

He estimates that a single parking lot paved with solar panels — even one where cars are parked — could power the big box store it serves, and a cul-de-sac paved with solar panels could take an entire subdivision off the grid even on a cloudy day.

Eventually, LEDs built into the tops of solar panels placed on highways could move lanes around, create crosswalks, display speed limits and even detect and warn drivers about road hazards like stopped traffic and crossing wildlife. Best of all, the panels could be laid down over existing asphalt.

The project might sound improbable, but he’s got the ear of the Federal Highway Administration and is currently in fourth place in the GE Ecomagination Challenge, a competitive funding opportunity that could get the project off the ground, so to speak. Voting for the Ecomagination Challenge ends next week.

“We’ve gotten estimates from the universities for developing the glass and it would cost about $50 million to complete the research and get ready for production,” said Brusaw. “If we could get part of that, it would get us going and help us finish our R&D.”

It all started a few years back when Brusaw and his wife Julie were gardening and talking about climate change. Scott had dreamed of transmitting electric power through roadways since he was a kid playing with slot cars and always thought an electrified roadway could be used as a solution to reduce emissions. “Couldn’t you make your electric road out of solar panels?” Julie asked. Read more ...