An electrical engineer, Scott Brusaw, came up with this brilliant idea of storing solar energy through highways and byways a few years ago. Bursaw and his wife, Julie Bursaw, suggested a plan to harvest solar energy by placing hardened solar panels instead of asphalt on highways. The idea flourished, and the couple won the support of the US Federal Highway Administration. They asked them to build a prototype first and It was funded by the government. Once they were done with the prototype, the US Federal Highway Administration paid them to stretch the concept to an operational parking area. These solar panels have built-in LEDs and they generate heat to prevent snow from gathering up on the road. For an average user, They can seem like any other road with the markings on them.
This whole concept can give a new dimension to the energy sector. A lot of work has already been done on solar energy in order to cope up with the upcoming energy crisis. If we let this idea to expand to the level of countries’ motorways and highways, we would be talking about the huge amount of energy generating capability. Imagine your country’s major highway network having these solar panels, Imagine the boost that can be given to the worlds’ energy generation with the help of this technology. The good thing about this idea is that you don’t need to look for new sites or locations where you can place or establish these solar panels. Rather, all that is required is to convert the already present roads and highways into these solar based ones.
The couple came up with his extravagant idea way back in 2006. They completed their first road panel in 2010. It measured 12 x 12 ft (3.7 x 3.7 m) and consisted of several small connected panels. Their team also manufactured a crosswalk panel, which was programmed to demonstrate instructions whenever it felt any mass over itself. Scott has also featured in TED talks and he is also a worthy winner of GE’s Ecomagination challenges. The couple received the funding in 2011 for the development of functional parking space. They unravelled their design in 2013 and, the first batch of newly designed panels was all set to go in September. They released the photos of this operation Solar roadways parking lot a few days ago.
“Half of our prototype parking lot is mono – crystalline, while the other half is poly-crystalline,” Julie Brusaw said. “The parking lot is equivalent to a 3600-watt solar array. The power collected is dependent upon the amount of sunshine received. So as with all solar, it will produce more in some parts of the country and world than others.”
“We’ve moved power and data cables to a Cable Corridor alongside the road/parking lot,” she continued. “This provides easy access the power/data companies. It will give the cables a home and eliminate the need for overhead wires that are unsightly and subject to ice/breakage. The other way the power companies are handling it now is to bury them (sometimes right next to gas lines) in the dirt and dig them up with a shovel for access. So we can make utility companies’ work much easier and safer. Our system can also eliminate cell phone dead spots by installing a ‘leaky’ cable in the Cable Corridor. Our corridor can be a home for all kinds of cables including TV, fiber optic for high speed internet, phone, etc.”
This new development surely holds a lot of promise and we hope that the prototype testing is a success.