There are 2.7 million miles of public roads in the United States, and in the past we’ve seen several innovative designs that transform these paved surfaces into energy and heat-generating solar roads. One company, Solar Roadways, has even come up with a prototype solar panel for roads, however they are expensive ($7,000 each) and it has been estimated that the cost for transforming the whole country’s roads solar would top $35 trillion. Faced with this is ridiculous cost, the University of Rhode Island has come up with four feasible methods for super-charging our roads with solar power – read on for a look at each!
The first method is to gather solar energy from Jersey Barriers, the walls that are often used to separate opposite lanes on narrow roads. The research team from the University believes that if flexible photovoltaic cells were installed along the tops of these barriers, then the energy collected could be used to power street lights and road signs.
“This is a project that could be implemented today because the technology already exists,” said K. Wayne Lee, URI professor of civil and environmental engineering and the leader of the team. “Since the new generation of solar cells are so flexible, they can be installed so that regardless of the angle of the sun, it will be shining on the cells and generating electricity.”
Lead Image © Wolfgang Staudt