Solar roadways, a concept that started out as an Idaho couple's pet project, could soon be a reality thanks to the more than $1.5 million in donations that have poured in from a crowdsourcing website.
Scott and Julie Brusaw, who operate Solar Roadways in Sagle, Idaho, have been developing solar panels with special tempered glass that they hope could one day replace roadways and parking lots, according to CNET.com
. The Brusaws say that the panels would not only be able to collect energy, but would also be able to charge electric vehicles while they're driving and even have some storm water management applications.
The Indiegogo crowdsourcing account, which was created April 21
, also touted the panels' ability to melt snow and help cut greenhouse gases by 75 percent. The fundraising campaign is set to end June 20.
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"Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks," The Solar Roadway Indiegogo page stated. "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. A nationwide system could produce more clean, renewable energy than a country uses as a whole," the statement continued.
In a video on their website, Scott Brusaw said the solar roadway would eliminate the need for overhead power lines, which can be knocked down by storms. He said microprocessors built under the panels would create "smart roads," which could warn drivers of danger in advance if animals like deer or other hazards fall on the roadway.
Katie Fehrenbacher, of Gigaom.com, argued, though, that solar roadways
are simply too expensive to implement anytime in the future. Current funding, she said, should go toward supporting current solar panel technology.
"Rooftop solar panels are at their cheapest time in history right now," Fehrenbacher said. "And combined with new business models that help customers get the panels installed for free with a long-term electricity contract, a market for solar systems in the U.S. has opened up like never before. There were more solar panels installed in the U.S. in the last 18 months than in the last 30 years."
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