With 25,000 miles of highways and byways on the lower 48 states, Solar Roadways wants to use these heat collectors for reneable solar energy. But, you can’t drive an 18-wheeler on a solar panel! Or, can you?
According to the folks at Solar Roadways, yes we can (with apologies to Barack Obama for using this line). But, this technology does not end at highways and streets. These solar road panels can also be used on parking lots such as at airports, malls, stadiums and other large parking structures.
So, how can you drive on a solar panel? The Solar Roadways project actually involves three layers including a high-strength translucent surface layer on top, an electronics layer in the middle and a base plate on the bottom.
The surface layer is tough enough and provides enough traction for vehicles to drive upon, spill oil and coffee upon and put up with normal wear and tear. The electronics layer contain the array of solar cells, which collect light and heat and store the energy in ultracapacitors for later use.
The base plate distributes the power collected by the electronics layer to nearby homes and businesses that are connected to the solar roadway. Parts of this layer are stored deep enough underground as to not be affected by freezes and thaws.
Gordon Lightfoot many years back sang about the “Carefree Highway,” but it is the Solar Roadway of today that just may free this country from its dependence upon fossil fuels. And, this technology would put each of us, literally, in the driver’s seat to do just that.