Have you heard about Solar Roadways? Solar Roadways Inc. is a manufacturer of solar-powered road panels and their vision is to transform our present asphalt-based roads into smart highways. I got really curious when I first heard about it, that’s why I did a research about it before investing on it.
What I Found Out
As with other unconventional discoveries, I first had my doubts about Solar Roadways. What is it? Is it for real?
Is it a scam?
You see, this is just a startup Company and they went into crowdfunding of money so that they can continue with the project and start manufacturing these road solar panels. Founded by husband and wife team Scott and Julie Brusaw, it has been around since 2009.
The Company is based in Idaho, by the way, and Scott is the President and CEO of their Company. As an electrical engineer himself, he created the blueprint for this project.
The whole concept behind this monumental task is to provide America (and the rest of the world, eventually) with roads that are solar powered so as to conserve energy in the process. For the underlying solar cells to work (because it needs to be exposed to the sun’s rays) the driving surfaces will have to be made of transparent materials – like glass.
I know, I know – glass materials are slippery, but these are not really glass. In fact, the panels are made of recycled materials, thereby making the whole process truly environment friendly.
The glass-like materials are also strong to be able to withstand vehicular traffic. And of course, the roads need to be safe too. No, the surfaces are not slippery – the road panels have been tested for good traction and resistance. And guess what, these are even self-cleaning.
Desperate Times Need Desperate Measures
If you don’t know it yet, we are already in desperate times. If we don’t help ourselves by saving on energy and conserving our natural resources, we (our planet) will self destruct. We don’t want that, do we? That’s why I am always supporting environment friendly projects as often as I can.
The Government’s Interest in Solar Roadways
Back in 2009, the DOT (Department of Transportation) granted Solar Roadways $100,000 as research fund for Phase 1 of their project. The Company was tasked to create a small parking lot to demonstrate the efficacy of their project.
Pleased with the initial results of the parking lot, DOT again granted the Company with a bigger budget to fund the construction of another parking lot for Phase 2. This time, they were given $750,000 – and a 12 x 36 foot parking lot was created.
Still based on concrete flooring, the solar panels were also equipped with a heating system to function well even in the presence of snow and ice. LED lights, which were solar powered of course, were also installed on the roads to display messages and warnings. And according to the Company, the parking lot can accommodate up to a maximum of 200,000 pounds of load.
Investing on the Creation of Smart Highways
It was only in 2014 when Solar Roadways started their campaign for crowdfunding so as to back up their project. I guess I was one of those investors who were convinced that this can really help our country and our world to preserve itself naturally.
How much will it cost to replace all the asphalt roads in America with solar-powered roads? Probably millions of dollars or even more, but that overwhelming figure can be made less overwhelming if we tackle on small projects one at a time. At least, that’s how I see it.
Will it Work?
I wouldn’t deny the fact that the concept behind smart highways can be a bit daunting, especially if we don’t open our minds to it. In spite of the proven power of the sun as a source of energy, it remains to be a controversial technology because of the expenses involved. Yes, solar power is free, but more research will still be needed to make projects like smart highways not only effective but safe as well.
Note, however, that other groups have also tested this and the results are positive. Eric Weaver, a research engineer working for the Federal highway Administration, also sees the potential of this project.
Is it a Scam?
A lot of people say that Solar Roadways is a scam. But personally, I don’t think it is. I wouldn’t have invested in it if I thought it was a scam, would I?
The experimental solar parking lots turned out okay, so that’s good. The same engineering just need to be applied on the construction of smart highways and the same kind of success can be achieved too. Right?
Well, the Company was very successful in their crowdfunding campaign. As a matter of fact, they only aimed for 1 million dollars and ended up with 2.2 million dollars investment.
Smart Highway Risks
I also believe that more research will be needed before all our roads are converted into solar highways. The risks to motorists are just too high to take safety matters for granted.
More studies need to be done to make sure that solar roads are better and safer than asphalt roads. Although energy conservation is one of our main goals today, people’s lives are still more important.
The Future of Solar Roadways and its Investors
Although Solar Roadways supervised the creation of the 2 experimental parking lots funded by the Department of Transportation, it won’t be like that for future road projects. The Company will simply be a manufacturer of road solar panels but they will not be responsible for their installation on roads.
Other agencies will therefore need to provide services for road construction and solar panel installation and the overall financing of such projects will be handled by other groups. These can be government agencies or independent firms.
As an environmentalist and investor of Solar Roadways, I am really excited to see how all of this will turn out. I am supporting the construction of smart highways because I believe in its many benefits – energy conservation, convenience, safety, etc.
Right now, it seems like a long wait still, as more tests and researches are being done to ensure the overall effectiveness of the project. But I have also witnessed technology boom and speed up especially during the last few years, so things can suddenly take a fast pace too.
I hope I have made the right decision to invest on this project (I believe I have). And I am hoping for a better future for all of us.