We’ve covered Solar Roadways‘ plans to transform U.S. highways into a vast, energy-generating network in the past, and this week the company announced that it will develop solar parking lots as well thanks to a $750,000 grant from the federal government. With the money, company founders Scott and Julie Brusaw plan to create a prototype solar parking lot for testing, but their real dream is to develop a road system made from 12-foot-by-12-foot solar panels rather than traditional asphalt.

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“This will give us the funding needed to continue our research and development,” said Brusaw in a company statement. Previously, Solar Roadways received $100,000 from the federal government for its startup project.

The panels, designed by Solar Roadways founder Scott Brusaw, contain embedded LED lights that might eventually act as a “smart” system that illuminates lanes while displaying 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.

They are also encased in sturdy, shatter-proof glass to support traffic and areconnected by underground wires. The overall goal is to create a solar network that includes parking lots, driveways, walkways and other solar surfaces in locations like playgrounds, amusement parks, patios, bike paths and even airports.

While it sounds like an excellent idea, there are certain logisical problems – namely the price tag: US $35 trillion. Yes, TRILLION. With a ‘T’. Each panel is currently predicted to cost around $7,000. To put that in perspective, President Obama’s current health-care reform only cost a measly $1 trillion. Whether the project develops to its creators’ epic scale is doubtful, but it’s certainly a cool idea.

+ Solar Roadways

Via Business Week