Ariel Schwartz

Solar Roadways to Prototype First Ever Solar Road Panel

by , 08/27/09

solar roadway, solar power, glass, pv
Ever drive on the highway and think about how much solar energy is wasted on the asphalt below? Apparently, so has Solar Roadways. The startup was awarded a $100,000 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) grant this week to prototype its Solar Road Panel–an energy-generating panel made from solar cells and glass that is meant to replace petroleum-based asphalt on roads and in parking lots.


solar, solar power, road, highway
The panels, designed by Solar Roadways founder Scott Brusaw, contain embedded LED lights that might eventually act as a “smart” system, providing travel lines as well as timely warnings to drivers about roadblocks and wildlife up ahead. At the same time, embedded heating elements in the panels could prevent snow and ice from building up on the road.

Once a prototype is complete, Solar Roadways still has a long ways to go before its technology is commercialized. But if and when it is, Brusaw estimates that covering the entire U.S. interstate highway system with his 12′ by 12′ panels could fulfill the country’s energy needs (based on each panel producing 7.6 kilowatt hours of power each day).

It’s an expensive plan–each panel costs approximately $6,900–but a single four-lane, one-mile road plastered with Solar Road Panels could provide enough power to take 500 homes off-grid. And potentially, the panels could even create an “intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.” A lofty goal, to be sure, but one that is worth keeping in mind–especially now that the government has given Solar Roadways the go-ahead.

+ Solar Roadways

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12 Comments

  1. Ahmed Al Shahmani August 16, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Wonderful… I realy been fascinated by the invension of these solar panels. If commercialized and succeded, it would be one of the wonderful invension in the 21st century.

    Best Luck with this great idea.

  2. Four Solar Road Designs... November 11, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    [...] 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 [...]

  3. rlohariwala February 27, 2010 at 10:20 am

    SOLAR ROAD PANELS HAVE GREAT POTENTIAL TO BE USED ON AIRPORTS,DRIVEWAYS AND ROOFING /FLOORING MATERIAL ANYWHERE MORE IMMIDEATELY.

  4. davidl December 12, 2009 at 2:22 am

    I think oil/gas made from algae such as Saphire Energy is trying to do will be the transition fuel to going all electric as it works just like regular gas in our existing infrastructure. I think its just a matter of time before there is a dramatic breakthrough in electric storage, Hopefully Eestor. If Saphire Energy, Eestor, and Solar Roadways come through, then I agree, we need a Manhatten type project that really gets the ball rolling. I also have several ideas on how to dramatically lower the cost of the solar roadway.

  5. jlaboo October 23, 2009 at 5:13 am

    I think this is the answer to 15,000,000 million jobs in 10 years…. I thought a lot about this concept to find someone one out there actually doing it. GREAAAT. I hate the fact that we see something as wonderful as this and think we have to wait 25 years to emply… We ought to treat this like the Manhattan Project and place our best scientist on this and get it going…………
    Because I really have given this a lot of thought I will give a brief overview on my thoughts for how to get started on this right away. This highway can be built cheaper than propsed because there are alot of manufacturing companies that if they collaborated on could perfect the design.
    this highway could change most states like the Alaskan pipeline. Millions could be employed in manufacturing, road construction, technical support, maintenace, service and more. I have a vision and know how some components would change the world in which we live in. Building a smart highway could reduce deaths on our roads and even make the landscape look better.

    This highway has far reaching potential, even resolving our immigration problems. Think what would happen if we leased our knowledge to other countries and allowed them to install our highways in Mexico or Canada. Curtail greenhouse gases, increase automobile export.
    I have said too much, perhaps I should apply for a job.
    the possiblities are endless..

    Ask me how!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. csaw242 September 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    What’s to keep us from building a magnetic induction system into the road that would charge the vehicles traveling on it? Then we could use the battery storage capacity of the cars themselves as additional storage for the road system?

    While we’re at it let’s drop a cheap computer into each panel to act as a control system and to provide cloud computing capacity for the communities the roads tie into?

  7. dorvlind August 29, 2009 at 10:59 am

    We need to be thinking beyond solar road panels. I can see the government spending trillions of dollars to retrofit the transit system with these, leaving us with more pollution, congestion and oil dependance.

    The primary issues blocking the widespread adoption of all-electric cars are limited range and lack of a distribution network (equivalent to gas stations). A road capable of producing and distributing electricity eliminates those issues completely .

    A commenter on another blog suggested that if charging stations were set up every few hundred meters or so, electric cars would never run out of fuel. My husband mused about the possibility of electric cars that use induction charging, so they would actually be powered from the road itself and only need battery power when the driver leaves the grid.

  8. alexjameslowe August 28, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Great idea. I hope that paltry little sum of money the DOT shelled out for this project can be expanded quickly. We’re so eager to bail out bankers, after all.

  9. ct August 27, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    if a competive market around this idea can develop it will not be expensive at all. the only question is how will they be made if made at such a large quantity? the embedded energy and recyclability of the product would have to be thoroughly thought thru before millions of these were made…

  10. ct August 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    http://metamechanic.org/ENERGY%20ROAD.pdf

    made a comic strip about this a while back.

  11. xzamianx August 27, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    We need to be thinking beyond solar road panels. I can see the government spending trillions of dollars to retrofit the transit system with these, leaving us with more pollution, congestion and oil dependance. Sometimes, a sustainable thing isnt THE sustainable thing.

  12. noxid August 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    My friends and I at YERT made a video that integrates the story behind Solar Roadways with animations from which you pulled those photos in this blog entry. Feel free to embed the video!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3PeSm6_hTE

    A fellow Solar Roadway supporter,
    Mark Dixon

    YERT Co-Founder

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