Solar roadways

As we continue to depend mostly on fossil fuels and the climate continues to change, innovative ideas appear around the world with an objective to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and on the other hand to limit the impact on climate change. In last few years major steps have been taken in the direction of renewable energies, mostly in rich countries, because as we all know the infrastructure for renewable energies costs a lot, especially in the beginning.  Each new idea should be studied carefully before the actual implementation especially if we want to see all advantages and disadvantages.

Today we are going to focus on solar roadways; we will try to develop briefly pros and cons so that each one of us can have their own opinion on this new technology.

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The Solar Roadway is an intelligent road that provides clean renewable energy, while providing safer driving conditions, along with power and data delivery. These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds… literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. . The same money that is being used to build and resurface current roads can be used to build the Solar Roadways. Then, since coal-fired and nuclear power plants will no longer be needed, the costs of all electricity generation plants can also be rolled back into the Solar Roadway.

The idea of solar roadways is certainly a very interesting concept, but we have to take into account different point of views before making our own.

In fact, there is a company called Solar Roadways dedicated to that very intention – to cover all concrete and asphalt surfaces exposed to the sun with solar panels structurally designed specifically for the roads. The goal of this company is to eliminate dependency on fossil fuels and remove limitations in terms of recharging electric vehicles. Their concept is still under research and development as they test out their prototypes in parking lots, but their efforts seem to be continually moving forward. Their current design consists of a strong layer with a textured glass for traction, a layer with an array of solar cells underneath the glass for collecting sunlight energy, and a bottom layer plated to distribute the power.

After this brief introduction you may be asking what the pros and cons are of implementing solar roadways. We will try to list some of them starting with advantages which include the ability to power homes and business while driving on these futuristic roads. The project of solar roadways allows businesses to power their own buildings and appliances by using special infrastructure.

It can also help with the problem of powering electric vehicles, which represents a major problem and an obstacle to the industry of electric cars. With the implementation of solar roadways we will talk about smart roads, with integrated LED lights in the aim to provide warning signs for drivers.

On the other hand we have to list some disadvantages, the most important one is the initial, extremely high cost of implementation. The durability and damage controllability that may affect traffic and power also raises a lot of questions. The cost of repair and maintenance may be higher than conventional asphalt roads. Dependable solar year-round may be a concern in areas that may not get as much sun during various seasons.

For some engineers the idea of converting roadway surfaces to electrical generation solar collectors has numerous practical problems. For some it is impossible to point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency. Some others think that there are many more practical locations to use the roadways. How can we keep the solar collectors clean so that sunlight can get collected? And last but the most important question is about financing the project, which is going to actually pay for such an obscenely expensive enterprise? In general the answer to the last question is the governments so the taxpayer, but today with the economic crisis very few people can afford this kind of expense.

As you can see, there are possible disadvantages to solar roadways, but the concept itself is still interesting. Problems are meant to be solved within any industry, idea, or product so we should not be surprised if one day in the future we’ll be driving on solar panels.

For now, with solar panels being installed at places such as homes, commercial buildings, schools, recreational parks, marine hangars, farms, cars, and road lights, the world is already making positive steps toward saving money, reducing negative environmental impacts, and creating bigger solar footprints not only as individuals but as a collective as well. So we should continue in this direction and develop more and more ideas to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.

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