US Coming Up With First Solar Roadways On Route 66, Missouri

  • November 16, 2016
  • LED Technology

smart lighting system by DEL

The use of solar energy is no longer restricted to illuminating surroundings through a Solar Street Light, but goes beyond it. Some innovative projects have been undertaken to widen the scope of solar energy in various other fields including transportation. One such project that has garnered people’s attention nowadays involves Solar Roadways, an Idaho based startup. This startup is working towards installing solar panels for electricity generation on the Route 66, the most famous highway in United States at a rest stop in Conway, Missouri. This project’s successful implementation would not only provide people with more energy from a renewable resource like sun, but also is going to bring road improvement.

The brain behind Solar Roadways is a husband-wife team of Scott and Julie Brusaw who have entered into a partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation. In their project, durable solar panels covered in a tempered glass would be installed. Inside the modules, microprocessors will communicate with other panels, a control center and also with the cars running on the road. LED lights in the panels would create street lines and signs without paint. Also these would be having heating elements in them to prevent snow and ice from accumulating on the panels. The panels would be strong enough to withstand force exerted by heavy vehicles. The solar units would be modular which means if one breaks, it can be replaced easily without disrupting the traffic.

As said by Solar Roadways, their goal is to modernize the road infrastructure with modular, intelligent panels and side by side producing clean renewable energy for homes and businesses. If their project becomes a success, this can lead to creation of new revenue streams. But this project is not the only one of its kind. Earlier this year, Colas a French infrastructure firm worked collaboratively with France’s National Institute for Solar Energy on a 620 mile long solar roadway project. Similarly a project called SolaRoad was implemented in Netherlands in November 2014 involving creation of a bike path made up of solar panels.

The success of this revolutionary project from Solar Roadways may get affected with real world engineering problems. In winter, water may get collected between the panels and freeze which can damage the connections between them. Traffic can wear and tear the solar panels which can reduce their ability to make electricity. Natural phenomena like frost heaves may force the panels to break. Though this project’s success cannot be determined at this stage, still it is the right step in right direction. Such endeavors that extend the scope of solar energy beyond its use in a Solar LED Street Light need to be applauded and encouraged as these are capable of fulfilling our growing energy needs and reducing our dependence on the traditional energy sources.