Forget rooftops, Solar Roadways installs solar panels under highways and roads

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Company:

Solar Roadways

Innovation:

Solar panels beneath roads to collect solar energy

Issue:

Transportation, Energy

Results:

Clean energy to make roads safer and provide homes and businesses with cheap energy

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, there are more than 4 million miles of highways and streets across the United States.  Solar Roadways is using those highway miles to its advantage by introducing the first prototype in the United States of a solar panel that can be installed beneath the surface of a road to collect and store solar energy.

In 2009, Scott and Julie Brusaw, the founders of Solar Roadways, received a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a prototype of a solar roadway by placing highly efficient solar panels underneath an ultra-durable covering that is strong enough for vehicles to drive upon.

Not only would the energy collected from these panels light LED lights along the road for night-time driving, they would also be able to melt snow and ice during the winter months, and supply power to homes and businesses connected to the roadway. 

Aside from the obvious safety and environmental benefits of the solar roadway, the economic benefits can have a huge positive impact on jobs and the economy.  On its website, Solar Roadways has estimated that building and installing solar panels on all the highways in the U.S. could result in 2.5 million full-time jobs for ten years.  On top of that, enough energy will be collected from the solar panels to pay for itself in about 20 years.

This technology is not exclusive to highways; it can also be used in driveways, parking lots, amusement parks, sidewalks, or anywhere where there is a paved surface.  The solar highway will provide clean energy from a secure, off-the-grid, energy source, and, According to GOOD, has the potential to generate more than three times the amount of energy currently used in the United States. 

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Amanda is a graduate of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she received her master's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, specializing in Public Relations. She received her bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech, where she majored in Environmental Policy and Planning and...
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