The U.S. Department of Transportation just doled out $100,000 to upstart company Solar Roadways to develop “Solar roads,” i.e. sturdy, 12×12 solar panels built specifically to be embedded into roads. The Department of Energy and, of course, Solar Roadways hopes that these solar roadways will push quite a bit of power into the energy grid. Each panel can develop around 7.6 kwh of power per day. The panels may also be include heating elements to keep the road from freezing over and glowing LED road markings to help people finally act out TRON based fantasies in the real world. For a mere $7k per panel!
According to Popular Science a mile-long stretch of four-lane solar road could produce enough energy to power 500 homes. The Solar Roadways press release includes even more potential awesomeness. They say electric vehicles will be able to recharge on the road and in parking lots making long distance travel in fully electric cars a lot more viable. They also claim the roads will be able to detect crossing animals and warn travelers to slow down.
Solar Roadways estimates it will take about $5 billion to cover all of the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. but, that it would produce “three times more power than we’ve ever used as a nation — almost enough to power the entire world.” Can you say stimulus package?