Roads powered by more renewable energy than can be used up, all with the help of LED solar panels? Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? That's what Solar Roadways believes it could do if it raises US$1 million (S$1.25 million) to take its invention from prototype to production.
What it envisions is creating solar panels to place in sections of road that would collect energy, in time paying for their costs. LEDs would be placed within the panel to light up the road, especially at night to make it safer to travel in the dark, and a heating element also added to prevent snow and ice accumulation.
The glass in the solar panels is created to withstand the heaviest of trucks, and is made up from 10% recycled glass.
Electric car boon
Besides keeping roads safe and ice-free, the solar panels could even be used to recharge electric cars. This might mean more cars that are less dependant on fossil fuels when cars can be recharged at rest stops and even parking lots with ease. No quickly hightailing it to a petrol station when your car can instead be powered along the road.
What is interesting is the ability to create parking lots that are adjustable instead of fixed. Need a motorcycle or disabled lot? Then the grid will create one for you so parking lots can be more 'intelligent' and change according to demand or needs. Now that's truly futuristic and a great banisher of the parking blues.
In naturally sunny climes like in the tropics, this could potentially be a way to harness more energy, minus the cost of building coal plants or relying on hydroelectric dams. Though what we'd probably see people clamouring for are more ports to charge their devices with if they don't happen to have car chargers with them.
Solar Roadways is currently raising funds via Indiegogo. Eventually the company hopes to see the technology built in roads all over the States. So far about 10% of the goal has been achieved, with another 18 days to go. We'll just have to see if other people find the notion of no longer relying on gas guzzlers on the road appealing.