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Solar Road’s is an ambitious project that has been seven years in the making to reach this point — their first public installation. These solar panels are strong enough to act as actual pavement and they plan to roll them out on roads and public squares across America. Solar Roadway’s have their first real-world test in Sandpoint, Idaho. (via Solar Roadways)

 

Remember Solar Roadways? They're still at it!

 

Some of you may remember the “Solar Road” project that tried to gain steam in 2009. The inventors of Solar Road are a determined couple, Scott Brusaw and Julie Brusaw, who have a dream of covering the roads, driveways, and any surface with solar panels. Many saw their idea as too ambitious, crazy, and impossible. However, through sheer determination and an idealistic passion for solar energy, they gained grants from the Federal Highway Administration and gained funding from an Indiegogo campaign that brought in a massive $2.2 million. Since then, they have been building prototypes in their garage and unveiled their first prototype in 2011, which garnered the interest of local news. But 2014, the couple installed their first installation in their driveway, and now they have their first public installation in Sandpoint, Idaho.

 

For those that don’t believe it, they have a live stream of their installation on Sandpoint’s website (here: http://www.sandpointidaho.gov/visiting-sandpoint/solar-roadways#ad-image-9). The installation has 30 Solar Road panels that are meant to power the public restrooms and fountain in the town square. The solar panels also light up (as seen in the photo above) and contain a heating element to successfully run during snowy winters.

 

The major design issues that the Scott and Julie had to overcome during prototyping was the texture and strength of the glass they used to create the panels. The glass panes must be strong enough to withstand the weight of trucks driving over and resting on them, but they also need to have a texture that allows the same friction of asphalt so that cars don’t skid when it rains. According to their tests before this major release, they say that their new design can withstand the weight of semi-trucks and has the same amount of friction as a regular road. The panels also weigh 70 lbs. each and are bolted together — assuring that they won’t be flown away by high wind or tornadoes.

 

As to the level of the success of the project, I think we must wait until after the trail run and see how many other counties become interested in the technology. So far, they seem to have some major support from Idaho Commerce, the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency, the Federal Highway Administration and more. Hence, I think it’s safe to say that the technology may gain some ground in future. If this works, I think it would be a great thing for sustainable energy.

 

In the meantime, how about make a lightup dance floor?

 

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