Could Solar Roadways boom renewable energy in the US?

An idea has caught the fancy of a lot of people who are sick with the snail’s pace of progress in renewable energy. Scott and Julie Brusaw are proposing to cover roads, parking places, sidewalks and other paved spaces with resistant, glass-encased solar panels. Their crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo to finance the next step in development of the idea has amply exceeded its one million Dollar target.

The idea seems almost too good to be true, but the people behind it are working hard to make it a reality. Of course there’s no lack of detractors. From “too expensive” to “can’t be done”, the opinions run hot as a freaking volcano. Talk about freaking, look at this video that contributed to make the funding campaign successful.

If America really did get going on covering its roads with those neat glass solar tiles, it could overtake Germany in renewable energy. If eventually all the roads in the US were converted to be solar roadways, the panels would produce about three times the electrical energy the country currently consumes.

Ready to delve deeper into the idea and the plans for making it a reality? The FAQ section of the solar roadways site is where to go.

Detractors, we were saying. Yes, they have reasons why this isn’t a good idea at all. Here are a few.

Crowdfunding As Easy Way to Fleece Suckers: “Solar Roadways has officially become another crowdfunding sensation. They’ve raised over $1 million USD on Indiegogo from over 25,000 people around the world, all to fund research, development, and production of solar panels that can be used to pave roads. This is amazing. This is wonderful. And it could all be soured if we hear in two years that they’ve sold out their backers and been bought by General Electric.
We’ve seen this movie before. Revolutionary startup turns to crowdfunding, thousands of people contribute, then two years later the startup gets sold to a huge corporation for billions of dollars and the backers get nothing. No say in the decision, not even a cut of the profits. This is what happened when Kickstarter-darling Oculus VR sold to Facebook.

here is the source for the above quote (an article by Zacquary Adam Green) and another one…

So why exactly are Solar Roadways a good idea ? First you take something affordable like a solar panel, but fragile, and instead of putting it on a roof where its safe you put it in about the hardest environment on earth – a roadway – where it will get run over by trucks. What do you think it costs to protect it, compared to the cost of a normal roadway, and how many times more expensive would that be than putting it on a roof – after all, just look around us, we obviously aren’t running out of roof space to put them on.

You will of course notice that no mention is made on the Indigogo of the cost per kWh because I bet its at least 10-100x the cost of polarizing roofs or if we run out of roofs, by adding a layer to glass windows.

Their Indigogo campaign is a classic case of 10,000 lemmings funding a lemon.

… of course it can be done, its the issue of cost that’s crucial. With the critical need to build more renewable infrastructure the last thing we need is to be spending 10x what we need on it for a gimmic. (I don’t know if its 10x , cost figures are noticably absent so I’m suspecting that is a LOW estimate).

Yes, for sure there are quite a number of reasons why it can’t be done or why doing it isn’t a good idea. But there are an equal or greater number of reasons why it should be done, one of them being our appalling track record of finding ways to get off the oil addiction our technology seems to suffer from.

It would certainly be good if this could be kept out of the hands of the usual suspects, those huge companies that profit from the addiction, and that is a real concern.

It will be interesting to see if the vision can be held by enough people for a long enough time span to finally become part of this reality of ours…

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