Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.
The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.
The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which "paint" the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. "detour ahead"). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to "slow down". There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.
Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.
It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12' by 12' Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we've ever used as a nation - almost enough to power the entire world.