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US Solar Roadways Plan Hitting Snags

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#1 EZRecovery

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 18:55

This is REALLY crazy  :o

 

Solar Roadways have raised more than $1 million through crowdfunding website, Indiegogo.  Their idea is an extremely ambitious one of replacing the US nation’s roads with solar panels.  The husband and wife team of Julie and Scott Brusaw, are now past the design stage and will now move from prototype to manufacturing, in what many consider to be a dangerous stage for any technology project.  The dream maybe still is a long way off as the logistics of actually pulling off this project are massive.

 

The project has received two rounds of funding from the Federal Highway Administration and the Solar Roadways team have built a prototype parking lot that is constructed with solar panels, microprocessors, and LEDs,  which are encased in a textured glass.  The firm says it can withstand the weight of a 250,000-pound truck.

 

www.hashslush.com_1.jpg

 

The idea is actually pretty feasible and if the team does pull it off they could replace all the nation’s asphalt with solar panels in the process generate more than three times the electricity the US uses.

 

Solar Roadways’ design would filter stormwater, prevent icy roads by melting snow, replace above-ground power cables and light up to warn drivers if a large animal, such as a moose, wanders onto the road.

 

With all these good points, what is there to go wrong?  Well, unfortunately, the list of obstacles is a long one. The main issue is cost. Science writer Aaron Saenz wrote in 2010, when Solar Roadways was first getting national attention, “Sure, we could pave the streets with solar panels, but we could also pave them with gold…There is roughly 29,000 square miles of road surface to cover. We need roughly 5.6 billion panels to cover that area. That’s a price tag of $56 trillion!”

 

Saenz says the numbers which the Solar Roadways team have used, has overestimated the cost of asphalt.  He thinks that Solar roads are 50 percent more expensive than traditional roads and he is not alone.  Joel Anderson, a business editor for Equities.com, said, “The Brusaws have been unable to secure any piece of the more-than $2 billion a year spent on solar research and development around the world…Probably because there’s too many more-practical, more-promising investments to be made to seriously consider this pipe dream.”

 

The Indiegogo campaign does not address the cost issue, and the Brusaws are unclear about what exactly the $1 million will buy. “We need to make a few tweaks to our product and streamline our manufacturing process so that we can make our panels available to the public as quickly as possible.”

 

Most of the technological challenges appear to be solvable. Like how to keep the roads clean, how to increase the efficiency of the panels and how to store the solar power.  The idea seems great, but I think the logistics and pricing issues will snag up the implementation of the project.

 

[Image via hashslush]

 

SOURCE: http://www.theverge....aises-1-million




#2 TPreston

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 18:58

Protip: Reporters who know sweet **** all about engineering and physics arnt suited to question the viability of things like this.



Spoiler alert: its a turd of an idea.

#3 +Tech Greek

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:06

Won't happen because money, /end

 

The majority of the interstate and highways here didn't have cable barricades in the middle because they cost too much ($150k PER MILE) until someone died and their mother took an extreme measure of barraging the lazy politicians to actually do something.

 

I have no idea why it costs 150k per mile, considering all they do is bury the cable in cement posts but hey what do I know. It's kind of like those concrete street panels that they usually refuse to replace instead spitting an asphalt spit wad on top creating an awesome speed bump in the middle of the road.

 

MEANWHILE politicians get raises and are spending money at exponential cost on less important things; one day our country will wake up and I hope I'm still alive to see it. 



#4 +DConnell

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:08

Protip: Reporters who know sweet **** all about engineering and physics arnt suited to question the viability of things like this.



Spoiler alert: its a turd of an idea.

 

So it'll be the next investment for the Obama Administration's green energy plan aka flushing tax dollars down the toilet.



#5 rfirth

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:09

I think they should just replace intersections with solar intersections... just to power the lights. And only new intersections. You can't go out and rip up perfectly good roads and put solar roads and expect it to be cost-effective.

 

Solar powered intersections are good because they would still work in a blackout. During a hurricane, for instance, you might be without electricity for 2-4 weeks.

 

Probably better to put the solar panels next to the road than under it, though.
 



#6 TPreston

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:13

 

So it'll be the next investment for the Obama Administration's green energy plan aka flushing tax dollars down the toilet.

Didn't watch their video to see the republican governor who was duped by it :rolleyes:



#7 +DConnell

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:15

Didn't watch their video to see the republican governor who was duped by it :rolleyes:

 

Oh, so it'll be bipartisan stupidity!



#8 +Audien

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:22

The plan isn't feasible, and not pointing solar arrays towards sun as it moves through the sky is a waste.  Don't know why this picked up any steam to begin with.



#9 +warwagon

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:26

First off I think they are a really good idea. But what happens when they get hacked and all the roads lines and warning get turned off?



#10 +Tech Greek

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:28

http://jalopnik.com/...375/ jasontorch



#11 TPreston

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:28

The plan isn't feasible, and not pointing solar arrays towards sun as it moves through the sky is a waste.  Don't know why this picked up any steam to begin with.

Because everyone who reported about this in the news knows nothing about science or engineering, Even basic common sense like the above is absent.

Its a sad reflection of our society and the media. 



#12 wv@gt

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:39

Great Idea, just never going to happen until our debt is paid off. Also, I would imaging the lobbying between the Coal companies and Nuclear companies would create a political mess



#13 Astra.Xtreme

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:49

Here's the problems I see with it besides cost:

 

1.  I can't imagine the coefficient of friction of this is better than asphalt/concrete on rubber tires.  It looks like some sort of textured plastic, so when it's wet or icy, it will be a nightmare to retain traction.

 

2.  Many areas of this country get A LOT of snow and it falls fast, so there's no way in hell heating coils will do much to help.  Put a bunch of snow in a bot on your stove and it takes a long ass time to melt off.

 

3.  How well will these hold up in cold weather areas? In winter, roads here get absolutely destroyed in a matter of years due to the pavement expanding/buckling due to ice buildup plus the salt and snow plows constantly scraping them.  Chunks of pavement getting torn up happens a lot and isn't a big deal, but chunks of plastic/metal shrapnel being torn up will be an extreme safety hazard.

 

But yeah, none of those things will even matter since this will never get past the cost stage.



#14 Sadelwo

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 19:57

Great Idea, just never going to happen until our debt is paid off. Also, I would imaging the lobbying between the Coal companies and Nuclear companies would create a political mess

 

This is the main obstacle, energy barons who see this as a threat to their income. If roads generate the electricity, you wouldn't need extensive power plants. Also, Hybrid vehicles become a lot more plausible to the masses, meaning oil companies would start loosing sales by a lot. Coal, Nuclear and the heavy hitter Big Oil will be against it.



#15 +LightEco

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Posted 03 June 2014 - 20:16

Astra.Xtreme, on 03 Jun 2014 - 12:49, said:Astra.Xtreme, on 03 Jun 2014 - 12:49, said:Astra.Xtreme, on 03 Jun 2014 - 12:49, said:

Here's the problems I see with it besides cost:

 

2.  Many areas of this country get A LOT of snow and it falls fast, so there's no way in hell heating coils will do much to help.  Put a bunch of snow in a bot on your stove and it takes a long ass time to melt off.

 

3.  How well will these hold up in cold weather areas? In winter, roads here get absolutely destroyed in a matter of years due to the pavement expanding/buckling due to ice buildup plus the salt and snow plows constantly scraping them.  Chunks of pavement getting torn up happens a lot and isn't a big deal, but chunks of plastic/metal shrapnel being torn up will be an extreme safety hazard.

 

But yeah, none of those things will even matter since this will never get past the cost stage.

 

You wouldn't turn them on to heat after there is a ton of snow already. When snow is coming you'd get them heated up and the snow would melt as soon as it hit them. Take your pot idea and sprinkle the snow in an already heated pot.

 

As for road wear, pretty much all your points would be moot. No snow or ice = no salt and plows plus the materials would mean no cracking and buckling during freezing.

 

Its a cool concept. You could even devise a way to charge electric vehicles as they drive over it. Unlikely we'll see it in mass implementation anytime soon, but perhaps companies or such will start using them in parking lots or private developments.