Solar Roadways Project: A Really Bad Idea

May 27th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

solar-roadways-snow-melt
This Solar Roadways project started showing up in my Facebook news feed, and seems to be getting a lot of popular support.

Except, I’m guessing, from actual engineers.

The idea that we can convert our roadway surfaces to electrical generation solar collectors has numerous practical problems. In fact, I don’t see how anyone with an engineering background could have seriously entertained the idea.

Here are a few of the problems which first came to my mind. (Joel Anderson at Equities.com, who calls the Solar Roadways idea “really silly”, has a few more of his own).

1. You can’t point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency (which is only about 15% for photovoltaics, anyway, which makes PV generation expensive on a large scale).

2. Why embed solar panels in such a harsh environment where they are constantly being run over and flexed by millions of tons of vehicles? There are many more practical locations to use (such as roofs, that face southward).

3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?

4. Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?

Furthermore, the above photo really has me suspicious. The photo supposedly shows the “active” portion of a solar parking lot melting snow. Say WHAT?….here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. A dark surface heated by the sun converts essentially all of the absorbed sunlight into heat energy…which is what is needed to melt snow. If you instead siphon off some of the absorbed solar energy in the form of electricity, there is actually LESS heat energy to melt snow!

So, unless someone can correct me, something here smells fishy. And I’m being polite.

The Solar Roadways project is run by a couple who have been soliciting donations at the Indiegogo.com crowd funding website. Last I looked, it was approaching $1.4 Million(!) Not bad for a mom-and-pop operation.

Obviously, I work in the wrong field.

See my follow-up post: Why are solar freakin’ roadways so freakin’ popular?


781 Responses to “Solar Roadways Project: A Really Bad Idea”

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  1. I’ve heard about this kind of silly projects back in the early 90s. People in Australia were promoting it arguing the strong Australian sun would produce lots a electricity. It was abandoned quite soon as reality moved in with some technical facts. Of course it looks as a new scam aimed to make a fast buck and then move into another one.

    • NunyaDBusiness says:

      LOL. All you paid off Oil and Coal slaves aren’t fooling anyone. Your days of piling money on top of money in dark rooms that you will never see are over! You greedy bastards take what you have and count yourselves lucky.

      It’s time for the future and we are done with you. The future is now!

      • Ernest Bush says:

        I see you are afraid to put your name where your mouth is. Do you think this fantasy idea is going to work when there isn’t enough money left in the economy to pay for it? The amount of power generated by solar panels will never pay for the cost of producing the arrays. Producing solar panels involves many toxic processes, so I have a problem as an environmentalist with their being spread all over the planet.

        At my house we sat through presentations of companies who wanted to have us lease or buy their solar systems. Even with taxpayers subsidizing the installation we would be dead before we recovered the cost of any solar array, even in Arizona. Instead we put money into making our house as energy efficient as possible and have seen an immediate return which will continue into the future. Have you done the same?

        BTW, your rant sounds like it came from a bad Star Wars type movie.

        • Sam says:

          I just wonder how much corporate money does it take for a Ph.D Laureate to turn his back on science and and common sense and start a blog denying everything he believes in. I mean c’mon a climatologist defending the idea of man has nothing to do with climate change, lets dig some more oil. I just wonder how much money does it take to lose your dignity? Have you ever asked yourself this questions professor?

          • JohnA says:

            Stop arguing emotionally and start using facts, science, or reason to support your stance. It’s really pretty simple. If you can show that this engineer and other’s assertions are wrong then you are golden.

          • Dana says:

            Then quit the debate just put them on roofs or sidewalks, driveways if you have ever driven thru NJ they have solar panels attached to Electric poles obviously it works doesn’t look pretty. Besides the initial investment, I would give it a try in the northeast we had canals now gone but still carry water why not using them for hydro same with dams that were used by the old abandoned factories that used water turbines to run machinery during the beginning of the industrial revolution.

          • Ryan West says:

            Big Oil definitely pays this guy. If you research his profile you’ll see that he’s a failed doctor. He had mediocre success in the past but has made critical failures. He’s given up on helping the world. He’s just in it for the money now.

          • David Lennox says:

            To everyone who expresses skepticism about these solar panels: great! To everyone who decides it must be a hoax without examining the evidence: shame on you!

            It is essential to challenge what we are told. When someone tells us something we really want to hear, it is even more important to challenge that.

            I would love for this solar panel story to be true and I hope it is. If the trials work and if peer reviewed scientific studies supporting it are published, I’ll be happy to support it.

            The voice of caution can sometimes be the voice of vested interests trying to crush a potential new competitor. But it is more likely to be someone who simply wants proof.

            Not everyone who differs with your opinion is stupid or evil. Sometimes, and this happened to me once, you might find your opinion wasn’t correct.

          • cindy says:

            There is a couple I know that spent about $25K for solar on their house in AZ, they have a pool and 2 AC units, and they actually pay about $5.00 a month max to the power company, when for all that, the normal monthly bill maybe would be $200+. If you have not used solar, and only listen to various companies, it might not make any sense. Try using some panels and see what happens. Come to Arizona if you have not lately and see how many businesses have them. Go to Chico California, there is a gas station that has all solar, they probably have 50 panels, they put them in around 2000, probably when California offered a lot of rebates on them, but ask them how good they work??? Just saying.

          • ethan says:

            Have you all noticed that driving on roads the wear marks on the road from peoples tires? In temperate environments these may not be as usable due to the need for wear and tear on the roads. Even if you don’t use salt on the Roads anymore you would still have need to use plow trucks. Even in a warm climate he estimated damaged panels would be 3 to every 9 on a monthly basis. And that is a low estimate.

          • Derek says:

            This guy is an avid proponent of intelligent design over evolution, and actively denies mankind’s role in climate change. Pro-conservative groups, oil, gas, and coal lobbies, etc. love him. He’s one of the VERY few scientist poster childs they have, and no doubt such groups bankroll him to keep writing stuff like this. Though he raises some good logistical points you can’t trust anything this guy says over anyone trying to sell you anything, whether its solar roadways or whatever. Here, read up: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Roy_Spencer

          • Sam, obviously you don’t know me or my views. I don’t receive oil money, nor do I believe “man has nothing to do with climate change”.

          • TIm says:

            This quote “Furthermore, the above photo really has me suspicious. The photo supposedly shows the “active” portion of a solar parking lot melting snow. Say WHAT?….here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. A dark surface heated by the sun converts essentially all of the absorbed sunlight into heat energy…which is what is needed to melt snow” does not take into account one distinct fact… how does the sun reach the dark area to start thermodynamic melting of 6 inches of show??? It doesn’t… maybe you should go back to school Professor… or are you professing something else?

          • markx says:

            Hi Tim.

            My thought process:

            If the dark roadway can’t melt off the snow as it lands, with 100% of the incoming sunlight energy being turned to heat, how is a solar panel with an efficacy of (with present tech) of 18%, or (with future tech) of say 80% at turning sunlight into electricity, which is then used via a heating element going to do a better job?

            Even if we assume the solar panel materials (glass, plastic, silica?) will have a similar specific heat capacity to the asphalt road, and could likely convert the balance of sunlight to heat (we’d need the same mass of material there with good conductance similar to the asphalt roadway to store it) there is still only the same amount of energy hitting available.

            Noting that on snow days, there ain’t much sun.

            Noting also that if we wanted to put electric heating element in our roads we could do that with present technology.

          • Emmanuel T. says:

            Oh please, Dr. Spencer knows more about the subject of climatology than anything that your dubious ideology can conjure up…..

          • Pat D says:

            regarding the panels melting snow–I gathered that they have electric heaters in them, apparently using stored power. So once they are plowed, eventually they will clear off and start collecting sun again. With all their gadgets, though, what is the net produce?

          • Jeff says:

            Sam, I agree.

            We can just ask the Global Warming “so called” scientists. It’s probably about the same amount of money. :)

        • Fredric says:

          so funny im almost crying here. there isnt enough money? true that, pretty expensive to just switch every road in the world in a jiffy, but if you use your mind for something we like to call thinking, you would pretty soon figure out that we cans use money to save world hunger either, so what do we humans do when the problems get to big? we chop it down into little pieces and solve one small part of the problem after another, in this case meaning, as they stated in the original video, that they now have been contracted for 2 testroads, one step in the right direction, solve the problems that pops up and expand. some people actually try to be creative and save this fucking world, wich you all been a part of ruining, but i guess you dont care like the rest, as long as you can get your $5 blowjob from the thaigirl around the corner who cares where the world is going eh?

          • kataluna says:

            I read what he wrote then read the comments, and you, Fredrick, seem to be the only rational one so far who is even trying to make a valid point. Thank you for having common sense, which appears to be less and less common as of late. I was surprised to find this rant, and I wonder what sort of scientist believes this shit? I had to look him up just to prove to myself that this site was legitimate. Also, his Ph. D. Is in meteorology, from the University of Michigan… not in engineering, not in ecology, nor in any other related subject. Though his studies could vaguely relate to global warming, I feel he is in no position to weigh the ecological (or economical) impact of this project. I understand he is educated, but to state on this field as though he has studied it extensively, it seems… fishy, and I am being polite. Also did anyone else notice the grammar mistakes? I mean I’m no Ph. D., but… well, isn’t he?

          • Frank says:

            I dont see where the problem is for money to implement at least a pilot project on a larger scale. Instead of spending zillions in warfaring around the world, use all those soldiers that you already pay and put them to work on that project. the US army has scientifics, engineers, construction specialists and A LOT of soldiers that can do the ground work. They are already on the US federal government payroll so no difference. AND they wont have to risk their lives as much.

          • Douglas says:

            If you’re so smart, how is it possible that you can’t spell.

          • michael says:

            first worthwhile comment I have read in this entire discussion.

          • me says:

            What girl only charges 5 bucks?

          • Objectivist says:

            Fredric,

            When my son first told me about this project, I brought up most of the same objections as Dr. Spencer. For anyone with any kind of technical or engineering background, they are obvious.

            Probably the biggest obstacle to this being in the slightest practical is the cost. Solar panels are running about $100-$200 per square meter, as opposed to very inexpensive concrete or asphalt. While there would be a payback in terms of generated electricity, it will almost certainly be overwhelmed by the cost for replacement of failed panels in such a harsh environment.

            A much more sane approach would be to place the panels on a raised platform above the roads, tilted to maximize efficiency. That would also (at times at least) shade the vehicles below, somewhat helping with AC efficiency. The problem with this is that the platform would have to be high enough in most cases to fit semi trucks, meaning around 18′. That’s pretty high, and a lot more expensive than a lower structure. Regardless, it would eliminate the myriad engineering challenges with having vehicles drive on the panels.

            I’m skeptical of catastrophic human-caused global warming, but regardless I think replacing coal power with something cleaner is the right way to go. Solar and wind are insufficient to do it alone. The best, definitely workable, approach is LFTR (Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor). Thorium will provide plenty of energy as a stopgap until fusion is practical. You can read more at flibe-energy.com. That is the compromise the alarmists will have to accept if they’re serious about lowering CO2 emissions.

            High density power sources such as thorium fission and fusion will also enable humanity to spread out into the solar system, bringing a new golden age of plenty. Abundant, cheap, clean energy is the key to a bright future for humanity. It will also be necessary if the worst climate predictions are right, as geoengineering will be the only possible solution. Just stopping CO2 production won’t do it.

          • ciera says:

            Fredric,
            I agree with you, it may take 50 years to acctually convert the whole U.S. but that just means our grand kids and great grand kids will have a better life.

          • shara bunga says:

            Frederic, your points are diminished by the way you respond. Your choice of words are offensive. Unfortunately, personal attacks, f-words and disgusting sexual and racial reference rather what distinguishes your comments rather than intelligent contributions worthy of further discussion. Moderator? Where are you?

          • Greg Jones says:

            Ok Frederic…. Would you please send me your real name and address so I can come and rip your fucking tongue out and shove it in your ass and then put it back for even mentioning an Asian woman and a cheap sex act… What the FUCK does that have to do with this debate ?? It has nothing to do with this debate you MORON ! Waiting on that address ??? It will be worth a vacation day or two and I only need one 45 cal bullet to end this discussion you piece of shit !! By the way my wife happens to be Asian…

            come on FReddy ….Colt is ready for your BLOW…PUSSY

          • Milo Leading Weapon Engineering Technician Royal Navy says:

            Frederic i have to say, your honesty is exceptional. You are true and stand for what you believe to be right and in any humane response that reply is correct in my eyes.

            This isn’t directed at you Frederic but thought i would state my opinion in your reply as it’s higher up the blog. People are worried about the panels melting snow. Let me make a point ‘as an engineer’. These panels are going to be linked together forming a network of roads. Solar efficiency not only has a stored power supply, but what i mean by being ‘linked’ is they are networked. Even if they are covered in 6 feet of snow on a dark day the networking system can transfer the power through the panels from a location that isn’t covered in snow. We are talking about an entire matrix of networking possibilities. Any paying for all this? I’m right behind Frederic. All the roads that lead to Rome were not converted from dirt track to tarmacked roads overnight. This explains ‘growth’. Starting small and adopting the improvise, adapt and overcome attitude will iron out any snags in the project. As for financially backing, even if it started as 30-40 feet of road, the money saved on that stretch can be put forward for extension. Not just relying on commercial sponsors and investors.

          • Lipton says:

            Hey, don’t judge those little Thai girls.

            The last time I went for 2 weeks, spent just under $1000 and fucked a couple different women every night that made Hollywood/porn stars look like wallowed out assholes.

            Then there was the time I went to the Philippines. Sweet baby jesus that was a good time.

            I love brown girls and exchange rates :P

        • Chris says:

          “Producing solar panels involves many toxic processes, so I have a problem as an environmentalist with their being spread all over the planet”. The idea is that any harm to the environment in the process of making the panels would be far outweighed by the harm of not making them and continuing to get energy from other sources that harmful to the environment.

          “we would be dead before we recovered the cost of any solar array”. It’s taken many generations to damage the planet, so people should expect it will take many generations to fix it. These initiatives aren’t just about your lifetime, but future generations.

          • melissa doty says:

            amen

          • M. Byron says:

            You don’t have a clue about the efficiency of solar panels it seems or you wouldn’t make such a stupid comment. We built a 3000 sqft house and a 2600 sqft heated shop in 1996 powered exclusively from 14 panel solar array on a solar tracker. We used a Kubota generator for backup which ran for about an hour every second day in the winter to charge batteries to capacity. I can weld in the shop, we run three computers two TV’s and every modern appliance off of our solar power system.
            It cost us $26,000 for panels, inverter, batteries and generator to put in and the average power bill in our area is $350 a month….do the math.

            It was paid for in six years in power savings and unlike the rural area and small town nearby, we have never had a power outage….ever! We have had free power ever since!

            Do a little research before making stupid uninformed comments that you get from the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry!

          • Diane says:

            If there is ANY chance these work, then let them do a pilot project. Like Frank said above, our military would be a great alternative to spending more money. Or get the prisoners out of jails, and make them work for free. There are millions of prisoners,throughout the world who could pay back some portion of their crimes to our world. Solar power does work, no denying it.

            And people, really, lets stop with the elementary sarcastic remarks. You sound like kids. Be kind. Open your minds. Put your negativity away. At least try….

          • chris y says:

            M. Byron-

            Thank you for actually including some numbers to support your claims about solar PV at your home. Using generous assumptions about daily TSI, your PV system will only supply about $60/month worth of electricity at a retail rate of 10 cents/kWhr. I suspect the main reasons you have such a low electricity bill compared with your neighbors are the energy efficiency upgrades you built into your home and shop. Those upgrades pay for themselves in a few years.

            The only place you could approach $350/month worth of electricity from your 14-module PV array is in sunny Hawaii, where retail rates are an astronomical 40 cents/kWhr.

            Anyways, I am impressed that you have actually invested your own money into solar PV and energy efficiency. Good show!

          • Justin Nelson says:

            You’re missing the point. Assuming you have a job, do you pay to go to work? Why implement costly and toxic solar methods that won’t even pay for themselves? …Under the idiotic guise of “saving the planet?” Little research has been done on their maintenance and durability. Those costs also detract from the viability of this idea.

            You do realize that disposal of these panels involves hazardous and toxic material, do you not? That doesn’t sound very environmentally friendly, nor is it saving the planet. Roads constructed of costly and inefficient solar panels are nothing but a greenie’s wet dream. I know your ilk hates oil, but until you come up with a better idea, pound for pound, why don’t you stop wasting so much energy trying to convince people otherwise? Nobody able to think for themselves is listening to your argument.

          • Dwayne says:

            nobody has even though of how slippery these things would be no matter what the conditions are, just the panels along being wet would cause the imaginable, sooo I don’t want to spill to much of the beans here but just think and you may be rewarded…

          • markx says:

            Strange discussion.

            Solar panels/cells/power are a GOOD idea.

            Putting em in roadways seems like a particularly POOR idea.(for all the reasons mentioned in the article).

            Putting em ABOVE roadways may work, but then again, they can equally well go above other things too.

          • DanInAustin says:

            Your logic is faulty. PV panels can be added elsewhere for substantially less that the cost of the roadways (they will still be inefficient but that’s a whole other argument.) There isn’t enough recycled glass to build the highways so you will have to use virgin glass which needs around 5000-9000 kWh of electricity/kilo to produce.

            There is a reason why roads are made out of concrete and asphalt. They are relatively cheap materials and are cheap to fix. It probably doesn’t make sense to design the roadways so they require people with engineering degrees to fix them.

            Slowly doing something that is inefficient doesn’t make it more efficient. It only spreads out the pain. Either these panels make economic sense or they don’t. I suspect that they don’t.

        • Alex Turbyne says:

          It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you sit on, there will always be pros and cons for solar. The way I see it solar works and continues to work for us in a variety of ways. No sun, no crops, etc. Now the practicalities for solar power is limited by todays production techniques and costs, to be sure but will change as solar power gets better developed for practical usage. Solar cells are being used in Australia on a large variety of systems, such as stand alone street lighting. and also lighting for billboards. individually they are not very big but if you had street lighting no longer being supplied by the power grid?? Traffic lights could also benefit from solar. you see solar doesn’t have to supply a whole town or city just a part of . Small steps at a time is the way of progress and shall result in developments in other areas in conjunction with solar after all solar power has been around us and with us for centuries. Don’t negative be positive.

        • Tracy says:

          It would appear you are only concerned with the cost.
          How about looking at it from the POV that every little bit of energy produced from the sun can offset greenhouse gases and save the planet?
          Can you really put a price on that?

          • Erny72 says:

            Tracy, no you can’t put a price on hypothetically saving the planet from gullible warming, which is why in the real world this is a business case that wouldn’t stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny (and like it or not, it’s only government who will squander borrowed money to invest in ill-conceived projects like this).
            If I tell you that red cars are more dangerous than grey ones because there is a correlation between higher accident frequency and red coloured cars and I then tell you that to fight red car carnage, you’re going to pay for red credits every time you buy anything red or pink or orange, then I expect you’d be miffed about it. If I then ask you to invest in my scheme to create grey paint out of guano and moon dust, you would point out that it was a stupid idea. To which my disingenious retort would be that it is worth the outrageous cost to inefficiently make car-accident friendly paint in order to save the young people (who would otherwise drive those killer red cars); could you really put a price on that?
            Having to waste the time listening to someone actually say thay would be irritating wouldn’t it? How about having to hear it everytime you open a newspaper or hear socialist politicians or members of IPeCaC dribble their excreta all over the TV?

            This is why when the clarion call about ‘saving the planet’ is trumpeted parrot fashion in response to criticism of this sort of appalling waste of time and money, it drives sensible, sceptical people crazy.

        • Arlo Christy says:

          Mr. Bush, you did not present or offer one single fact to support your rant.

        • Raf says:

          Well there, Mr. Big Oil. I happen to live in a particularly interesting area of out planet called the EU. Where we live, we don’t get as much sunlight as most of your southern states yet we manage to harness it and keep an honest dialog about it. We’re a new economy with plenty of improvements that need to still happen after 50 years of communism, but even here, we KNOW, not believe that this is something worth trying. Our neighbors to the west are way ahead of us and shine as an example for the rest of the EU. More than 40% of their homes are solar powered and those who use panels actually get paid by the gov’t for creating excess energy. This is the strongest economy in the EU… makes you think, doesn’t it? I’m really happy to see that there are so many people in the US who are finally snapping out of the rhetoric of – solar? bad…. electric car? nonsense… by the way, the Global Warming thing on your site … I usually skip through any site questioning the issue, especially given the piling amount of data… nobody in the right mind questions it anymore and hasn’t for many years.

          • Erny72 says:

            Raf, good luck with the vision you’ve been sold, but your gushing overlooks a few obvious things.
            Firstly you speak boastfully about coming from the EUssr which is going to crap through bureuacratic waste and mismangement and desperately trying to prop up the Eurozone which is going to crap because even with the most misguided will in the world, you can’t have one currency unless it is governed by one fiscal policy(eg you all loose your flags and become the US of E). Not really something to boast about and the recent election results would indicate that Europeans are increasingly firguring it out.
            Your western neighbours (and I assume you refer to Germany) have a high proportion of wind and solar, true enough. You can see the result of that when you read articles pointing out how close Germany is to having its electricty grid collapse on cloudy, windless days (which is why they’re embarking on a substantial renewal of reliable coal fired power generation).
            40% of their houses aren’t ‘solar powered’, 40% of their houses have a solar panel or two on the roof which trickle charge the grid on a sunny day and generate some of the house’s total demand. In the meantime the conventional power stations continue to operate in case the sun hides behind a cloud and by operating at idle, they operate inefficiently. As a consequence the overall emission of CO2 is either unchanged, or elevated. It’s the same story in Denmark and Britain with their wind turbine endulgences. So much for saving the planet.
            As for getting paid by the government to trickle charge the grid, you are forgetting that the money has to come from somewhere. The feed in tarifs come at the cost of higher electricity bills when you consume conventionally generated electricty (that’s probably been imported from French nuclear powerplants), so what’s clever about taking money out of one pocket, giving it to the electricity supplier, who pays the government for his carbon (dioxide) tax so the government can then pay you your feed in tariff?
            Never mind the effect the higher energy costs have on manufacturing and industry, which is why you’re all becoming so uncompetative; it’s hard to afford endulgences like reflective rooftop decoration when you’re unemployed.

        • Jesse t says:

          if solar panels weren’t efferent enough to power anything why are there so many in production? there are many small company that make and sell solar panels and if they didn’t do what they said they would they would go out of business. i can personally say that half the people in my neighborhood have solar panels and due to the fact that they almost never use as much as they make which means they are automatically selling it back to the power company (if you new anything about how solar panels and there relationship to a normal house hold’s power system you would know this) and in the long run I’ve looked over the data it only takes a few years to make back the money you invested and if a system is properly maintained and you get a good warranty they last for over 10 years. so i have no clue what company you were looking at but apparently you didn’t look hard enough or you only have a year or two to live and if its the latter why are you worrying about solar panels?

        • Shawn says:

          You are an IDIOT !! If you sat through ANY presentation on solar panels for the house….and you say that you would never recoup the cost… WHAT! IT IS FREE TO INSTALL!! AND THEY CAP YOUR ELECTRICAL COST PER MONTH! Then they make their money on the excess energy that your panels develop! and for the other post… someone said ” you can not angle the panels to receive the most Sun at all times” WHAT!! you really must be working or advertising for the oil companies!! With so many roads and driveways and parking lots etc in the world, it would not matter if they were not facing the exact direction all the time! Jesus!! I am tired of stupid people! go hide and shut up!

      • Danny says:

        amen

      • Jason says:

        Your right, this kinda stuff needs to be happening and is happening now. I’m sick of everyone talking about the “money” aspect of it. like everything, COST will go down as demand goes up. I’m sure you’ve all taken your micro and macro econ classes as somepoint in college. And as for a scientist myself, molecular, and experimental, This plan is doable, just get more people on board and show them how it can work!

        • Jason says:

          oh, I mean as demand goes up, so should supply at some point, and as supply goes up price should fall. Start thinking outside the box people!

          • Bruce says:

            Uh huh, Jason. When I was a kid, Univac computers took up entire floors of office space and weren’t as capable as this laptop I’m using now. They cost thousands of dollars, not hundreds. Economy of scale is what it’s called, and it works.

        • markx says:

          “Doable”?

          You are perhaps missing the main points:

          1. Solar tech is probably fine.

          2. Putting it IN roadways is very likely completely impractical. (ABOVE may even be possible, it has to go above something).

      • ethan says:

        What about wear and tear on the roads from tires, heavy vehicles? And your best Buddy Al Gore sells coal from his family business Massey Coal.

        • Dave says:

          Of course the roads we have now don’t suffer from said wear and tear and last forever !!

      • Joe Dick says:

        Okay, a question from a supposed “slave” to a “master”: There are no solar-powered solar panel factories. If solar panels were renewable energy, the companies that make them would be first off the grid. Tell me, great master of all-knowing-ness, why is this? Why are solar panels made from energy derived from oil, coal, and gas?

        • Rasputin says:

          Joe Dick, you are so ridiculously stupid. Of course there are. You’re just another conservative jack ass talking out his ass about something he knows nothing about. There are people out in the world trying to make life better for you and you, with no real knowledge on the subject, fight tooth and nail to defend industries who poison you and take your money and care nothing about you. Do some soul searching, and maybe read a book.

          • Ellzee Mason says:

            Rasputin, I notice that you did not try to answer Joe’s question. You did not make even the slightest attempt. Instead, as just another liberal jackass talking out his ass about something he knows nothing about, you completely skirt the legitimate question and start calling names.

          • Emmanuel T. says:

            “Rasputin” and his “progressive” cohorts generally DO NOT try to address actual statements because they are incapable of any thought process outside the confines of their faulty ideological convictions….Hence, they indulge in needless name calling as a means of asserting some dubious level of moral superiority…..That is a consistent pattern among those who especially subscribe to ideological views supported by little more than sheer emotion…..

        • Mac Burks says:

          Come on Joe…Is this a serious question? Why do NASA employees drive to work when they have rockets at their disposal? Why did Henry Ford take his horse and buggy into work every day before he produced his first vehicle?

          Once the world is covered in solar panels (probably when we are all dead thanks to fossil fuel resellers putting up road blocks) and hopefully solar roadways our “grid” will be powered by the sun. At that point not only the solar panel manufacturers but every company will be powered by solar.

          In the mean time…obviously…large manufacturing facilities are going to have to rely on the electricity produced by whatever method their local provider chooses.

        • FactFindingPhil says:

          For god sake Joe do your homework before making such silly statements, there are over 400 solar PV panel manufacturing companies in China alone, as of 2013 and many of those use solar power to run their factories. Here is just one example:

          Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. is a producer of solar panels, with 2,000MW of annual production capacity by the end of 2011. Suntech has delivered more than 13,000,000 solar panels to thousands of companies in more than 80 countries around the world. As the center for the company’s global operations, Suntech headquarters, in Wuxi, China, features the world’s largest building integrated solar facade.

          Again Joe all you had to do was a quick Google search and you would have found this out, but as usual it is easier to spew forth bullshit than do the research and show that facts.

          • Pat D says:

            From what you say, Suntech has solar panels on their headquarters building, and they did it really well and neat. Joe thinks that there are no solar-powered solar factories. Different animal, but not a bad question. they get them at cost and better (I bet they can leverage incentives too!). So, is solar power a real production item or a niche?

      • ellery says:

        Roy Spencer you are doing exactly what you claim the other guy is doing – trying to pull a fast one over us. Your PHD and work experience is in meteorology. Your work for NSA is in climate studies which is applied meteorology. Your own CV does not state you have any education or training in engineering. Your statement about “black body absorbing the heat of the sun then linking this to the total absorb engery from the sun is probably the biggest lie I heard for the last 2 weeks. Solar panels convert light energy into electrical energy, radiant heat energy from sunlight is of a wave length that solar panel do not harvest – touch stone fact a solar panel array does get hot, if your point that it was the heat or thermal energy is what a solar panel harvests then it would not be hot since that would have been converted to electrical (but it does not explain how a light to electricity harvest system works on thermal collection as state by you.) People please do not be taken in by a so called expert, his expertise lies in an area which does not extent to solar panel technology, he is not an engineer – so his statements are just opinions with out logical, scientific basis – or it you were impolite – lies. As to why he is lying well only he knows but if you follow where the money is from swaying you to believe him you will know why.

        • Objectivist says:

          Ellery,

          I think Dr. Spencer did miss that these solar pavers have a heating element, and current would have to be pulled from the grid to melt snow. The panels sure won’t be generating power under a layer of snow.

          That said, it is a minor issue in terms of the overall practicality of this idea. As I said above, it would be much easier (and I think cheaper in the long run) to simply put a raised platform above the road, allowing the panels to tilt for maximum efficiency – and with minimal wear and tear.

          In short, I think research dollars would be better spent elsewhere, like LFTR.

      • Reality Check says:

        I installed thousands of solar panels years ago and walked away from the mess due to the lies perpetrated by the industry. They are fragile, delicate, and not very efficient.
        We have a hard enough time paving our roads with asphalt. Can you imagine doing it with panels? Yikes! So when they “go down” do we close the road to replace them? Stop traffic? This shit is so silly. Makes me weep at all the feel good green suckers who really think these hippies are “on to something”. Get off your green soap box and think. This government has a hard enough time filling potholes. You think they are collected enough to do Operatiions and Maintenance on a solar roadway???? Get a grip and start learning Mandarin. Good luck.

        • Enrico says:

          Well a 100 year ago, the idea of paving road with asphalt must have looked as crazy as today it is to pave with solar panel..
          I hace seen a lot of numbers, in this mail thread as in the global warming section, but there is one number that nobody shows for some strange reason: the efficiency of gas engines: today at the best a gas engine generates only 15% of mechanical energy (to move it :-) , per each gallon go gas the remaining 85% goes in pure heating.
          So why complain for Solar panel efficiency ? the only way to improve it is to force a high demand, than there will be a natural push (investment) in improving it..
          Even if a full road may be not reasonable for resitence/maintenance reason to be paved with solar panel, why not pedestrian roads, sidewalks, city squares ?

      • Dissilusioned says:

        I was going to say exactly the same thing, but you saved me the effort. It’s nice to know that someone is aware of this constant and malicious attacking of new technology and ideas that ‘they’ can pay for, but missed ‘the boat’ on.
        On the other hand, we should all be mindful of just WHO can sneek in with big money, buy out and ruin something that truly could change the horrible ‘status quo’. We don’t even know how many lives could be saved without the ‘fracking’ idots at work. Thanks

      • Jon Samuel says:

        Did you read his points? His main point wasn’t that solar energy is not cost effective (which it is isn’t) but that if one is actually going to deploy solar panels there are better locations than roadways where the panels will get beat up by cars and trucks and dripping oil. Better to put them on roofs. Anyone with a grade school education can understand such basics.

      • Naresh says:

        Well, shortly there will be an invention coming out of india (under patent approval) where you will be generating electricity from the sea waves. it will be whole lot cheaper and eco friendly, incidently the inventor has also come up with a solution for the Bermuda triangle.

        • LevelHeadedTexan says:

          Naresh, I saw that story… But was curious as to what the Bermuda problem that it solves. I assume you are talking about all the ships and planes that have been lost. The problem is you can’t really “solve” something if you can’t determine what the problem is.

      • Petra says:

        Thank you for this reply!!! My thoughts exactly! Its those people that continue to destroy the beautiful world we live in!! Am glad a couple came out and shared this idea, i hope it gets implemented!! Am sick and tired of people who try to destroy others ideas that try and help the world from total destruction! Go back to your cave!!!!! Sick and tired of you!!

    • david medina says:

      Hello Eduardo 2 questions for you:
      1) Is the U.S.road and electric power infrastructure pays for itself and getting better everyday?
      2) Do you have ABSOLUTE PROOFS that solar roadways is a scam?

      Answer me this and then we can continue arguing.

      • alistair says:

        1) how is this relevant? it may well be getting better
        2) you don’t need proof that it is a scam to say it is not good engineering. If you want solar power, you need to take the expense and get as much power out of every $ as you can. that means putting the cells in a sunny place that points at the sun and can be kept clean. Putting them horizontal, below a really thick bit of glass that is covered in grit and salt is not good engineering.

        The limiting factor in solar power is not in the lack of space for the panels, it is in the cost of the panels.

        • Berdert says:

          My only complaint against arguments is the whole, “Normal roads produce more heat to melt ice and snow than electric powered ones.”

          How can anyone make that statement? Do we already have electric powered roads, cause I’ve never seen or even heard of them. And how can the road absorb any heat from the sun in the first place when there is snow and ice on it?

          • Despyria says:

            UofW did heated sidewalks in the 80s, I believe simply running steam pipes under them. Additionally, Germany is one of the cloudiest nations on the planet. They started putting solar panels on roofs and largely using Government subsides. They drove cost down while meeting/exceeding energy needs.

            One of the concepts was electric vehicles which are lighter and cleaner. EVs are a reality and work well. Again as more are produced the cost will go down. Tesla is on pace to have rapid recharge stations to take you directly coast to anywhere in the US by 2019… without any help from infrastructure. I believe that the GOP just 2 years ago called them a completely unworkable failure and the next year they won the luxury class against best internal combustion cars in the world.

            So percentage of light isn’t a huge factor (it was a small factor 30 years ago but not significant), heating from underneath works in one of the colder altitude climates in the country… what else was the issue?

          • Tim says:

            To answer the issue of normal roads versus these theoretical solar roads producing less heat, it’s a basic thermodynamics issue. An idea black body will convert all light energy it receives into heat energy, although our roads today aren’t perfect they’re close enough to the idea for arguments sake. Secondly the solar array has a clear surface, thus almost non of the initial light hitting it will be naturally converted into heat, but that is only part of the heat it claims to emit as there will be an internal converter which will convert light back into heat.
            The problem here is whether or not the raw heat conversion of the blacktop is more or less than the total heat conversion of the glass top + it’s internal light converters. And the answer is that any internal converters that we make literally cannot be efficient enough to make up the difference. In fact, according to a joint effort by the Fraunhoffer institute and the Helmholts Center in Berlin the world record for energy conversion in a solar array is 44.7%. Thus the final heat output of the installed solar array would likely be well below half that of the original black top.

            Source: http://www.ise.fraunhofer.de/en/press-and-media/press-releases/presseinformationen-2013/world-record-solar-cell-with-44.7-efficiency

          • Justa jOE says:

            A Tesla Model S weighs 4,647.3 lbs by comparison a 13′ Ford Escape 4 cyl weighs 3515 lbs.

        • Ian Kearns says:

          And what brings down the cost of a manufactured item other than mass production. Maybe this current solar panel is not perfect but if they continue to work out the bugs. Mass production of these which would be required to pave the planet would create a whole new industry and put a halt to the mining of fossil fuels which is long term unsustainable. At this point it is an idea that should be worked on and developed but as in the past it will go the same way as Tesla, Trombly and others.

          • Eric says:

            “Mass production of these which would be required to pave the planet would create a whole new industry and put a halt to the mining of fossil fuels which is long term unsustainable.”

            And who, exactly, is going to pay for this “whole new industry”? Even with massive economies of scale, the cost for this kind of a project would be almost unbelievably immense. Current estimates are $56 TRILLION. Even if you found a way to cut costs by half — and that’s a huge if — you’re still talking nearly $30 TRILLION. The US does not HAVE $30 trillion to spend on something like this. If we printed $30 trillion or issued $30 trillion in bonds, you’d see inflation go up in a way that would make the Carter years look like a picnic, wiping out your savings and destroying your buying and earning power. If we tried to raise $30 trillion in taxes it would bankrupt every taxypayer in the country for generations and STILL not be enough.

            Look, it’s a neat idea, and their hearts are in the right place, but this is just not practical. If you want to throw $56 trillion at something in the hopes of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, spend it on fusion research. That has a much better chance of actually becoming practical than spending it on expensive, damage-prone, poorly-positioned, hard-to-keep-clean solar roadways.

          • Ellzee Mason says:

            I believe what others have tried to point out in these comments is that fossil fuels are used to drive the plants that create solar panels, so this “whole new industry” would not “put a halt to the mining of fossil fuels.” Like recycling, no one seems to account for the amount of fossil fuel energy being used to actually recycle stuff.

          • Mac Burks says:

            This is the primary argument from those who only listen to talk radio. TODAYS solar panels may only produce X amount of electricity…but imagine if we dump a few trillion into research and development instead of into manipulating the price per barrel by staying at war in the middle east.

            The same people who paid for the asphalt roads will pay for these new roads. Us. Citizens of a modern society. The same people who spend trillions to fight resource wars.

          • Fritz says:

            This is a good idea. Maybe not perfect, but they have 2 pilot projects in the works, so I hope they get it to work. I think the panels will charge batteries that will then power heating elements to melt the snow. And they mention starting at home with driveways and sidewalks and public areas. That is a great place to start . I also have my doubts about heavy traffic on these panels, but I wish them all the best with the pilot projects. To all the people that reject it out of hand. Try being more open minded, give it a chance. Doing nothing will take us to the end of fossil fuel supplies in however many years with all its accompanied pollution , and then what ?

        • Jake Stone says:

          Actually, the limiting factor is both cost and space. Solar panels simply aren’t efficient enough to do anything but make a small dent in the amount of global energy needed. To rely purely on solar panels for energy would require an area about the size of the USA. Of course, I think my points only bolster your argument. Perhaps in about 50 years they will be efficient enough to be taken seriously as a primary source of energy, but turning roads into solar panels will never make fiscal, environmental, or practical sense.

          • Freedom_road says:

            Forcing this on us just like the electric cars, sounds nice to the fanatical cult of the doomed earth society, but lets be real. Have any of you environmentalists ever had a complete thought? For once please follow through on the entire process of doing something including what happens at the end of life. That means disposal in which technology right now doesn’t exist to even handle the toxic battery disposal and replacement for electric cars! Yippie they can almost go 50 miles on one charge, it’s just not realistic and to force people to pay higher energy bills just so you can force them into your position. The problem is that almost every idea that environmentalists want to force on the population involved some kind of data manipulation because the real data does not show their viewpoint. How about show a real case that starts from the beginning including total costs, harm to the environment from the toxic materials used that in turn you save helps the environment and show the whole life-cycle. In the meantime we can use common sense and conservation instead of communism and do things in small steps at a time so we don’t become slaves to cultists and a government that can’t seem to get their hands out of my pocket!!!

          • Dan Minear says:

            What a bunch of bullshit, Jake. You must be another unqualified individual making “scientific” claims that are full of nothing but hot air. Did you look at the map of roadways…BIG chunk of America. What study have you concluded with empirical research to make such a claim?

            The reality is that you and many other “know-it-alls” proffer such negative crap because you’re afraid. Fear is the only thing that holds humanity back? So, Jake, why are you so afraid of a technology that has advanced faster than you can legitimately keep up with, as evidenced by your loose references to elements of the discussion that have no longer any bearing in regards to the technology being developed. Small minded narcissists with little imagination and BIG fears…no wonder we can’t move beyond fossil fuels…too many fossils using it.

        • Dave says:

          > If you want solar power, you need to take the expense and get as much power out of every $ as you can

          No you don’t – you just need to make it break even, not to make as much money as possible.

          • Wes says:

            He said, just as you quoted, “get as much power out of every $ as you can.” He didn’t say get as much money out of it as you can.

      • Decius says:

        I can provide strong evidence: The thermodynamics show that even if we assume solar->electric conversion rates far better than real solar panels, those roads don’t even power their basic described features. Further, the reason why electrical transmission lines are elevated (rather than underground) isn’t just because it’s cheaper to suspend cables than to bury them- it’s because the cables have to be as far apart as they are in transmission lines in order to not produce excessive induced current. You -can’t- combine a road an electrical transmission, and that is a key element in the solar roadway proposal (Because you need the electrical lines in the roads).

        The airport portion of the idea is simply stupid. There’s no ‘tempered glass’ out there that can reliably withstand the stresses involved in landing today’s heavy jets. The first time a panel shatters and an A380 crashes and burns on the runway it will eat up all of the energy savings produced by all of the alternative energy sources ever.

        • Jeff says:

          Ok, lets go one step further. How many times on your way to work have you seen scratches abrasions and holes in the roadway caused by vehicle accidents? As former law enforcement i have seen my fair share of accidents that have left excessive damage to roadways. So, with this in mind and say that there is an accident (as we have thousands of a year) that were to damage the solar road. Glass or composite is going to shatter which would render an octagon useless and now you have a (and im just going from the pics because i didnt see any dimensions) 2ft wide x 8in deep hole in the road surface because it would have to be replaced immediately and that’s only one tile. I’ve seen wrecks that have left mars in asphalt roads that exceed 50 ft so now we are talking 25 tiles (again just a guess) that have been shattered and need replaced before the roadway can be opened back up again. Emergency crews are not going to be able to have something like that readily available. I can tell you I have my patrol vehicle packed with gear to be ready for everything that i can be prepared for and theres no way that i would be able to carry more that 1 tile in the vehicle much less the training and installation gear that would be required to do the appropriate repairs to open the roadway again

          • Robert says:

            they will just require u the have insurance to cover roadway damage during an wreak.

          • Jodie says:

            Perhaps the glass we are requiring is more than a thickened, tempered plate and more like next generation Corian or ballistic glass. I like your optimism, nonetheless.

          • Tyrel says:

            As for damaging the roads do you think its faster to repave the road from a crash or to replace some tiles. I have worked on roads a lot and i tell you it involves a lot of work and a lot of money. i would be a lot more cost effective to bring out a truck and replace some tiles and have the road in perfect working order then to have it shut down for 2 weeks for repaving. I tell you what people if you dont know what your really talking about please dont say anything. really just reading what people are saying makes me beleave that most people are not educated. (stupid i was being polite)

          • M. Byron says:

            Wow Jeff…So you carry liquid asphalt in your patrol vehicle do you?? Enough to repair a 2 foot gouge….lol.
            You reasoning is ridiculous!

            Every place these roads exist will have a warehouse full of replacements in nearby communities and a simple system of someone counting the number of damaged panels and calling the road crew to bring out that many. Fixed in a few hours, not a couple weeks using heavy equipment.

            Plus when they are damaged, they don’t suddenly leave a big hole any more than the asphalt would. In fact the panel stays in place until it is replaced.

            Since when has the public ever relied on “Law Enforcement” to fix a damaged highway after an accident….lol.

          • Dureall says:

            Who’s says these panels wont be wont be readily available, if they need to be replaced because of an accident, they look like they button right into place, from the videos I seen. Which is a lot easier than the heavy machinery it takes to replace a tar road today.

            As for the cost, Well there is an easy solution for that, Charging stations alone the roadside that the road generates power for to fuel the batteries of Electric cars that need to be recharged.

            WE really need to get away from this fossil fuel kick. and fast, before this planet turns into it’s sister planet, Venus.

        • Eskil says:

          Not that I support the idea. But:

          “The thermodynamics show that even if we assume solar-electric conversion rates far better than real solar panels, those roads don’t even power their basic described features.”

          I’ll remind you that those panels are connected to the power grid. They can use power from sunny locations or powerplants. But it doesn’t seem very clever from a global heating point.

          “it’s because the cables have to be as far apart as they are in transmission lines in order to not produce excessive induced current. You -can’t- combine a road an electrical transmission”

          This is not true. It is true that capacitive current increases, so you’ll need inductors to compensate. In Denmark the 150KV transmission powerlines are dug down these years, just the 400KV regional lines stay up.

        • Freedom_road says:

          Not to mention how will they repair these when they become potholes? The redundant circuitry involved so the whole grid doesn’t go down would be ridiculously expensive. Oh that’s ok they aren’t paying for it we are (the taxpayers).

          • M. Byron says:

            Really??? You don’t see the obvious! They are designed to be replaced easily, one at a time or as many as needed. There isn’t any potholes because municipal road crews will have stockpiles in the nearest communities and bring out as many as are needed and fix the road in a few hours, not two weeks when road crews can get equipment in there.

            And who do you think is paying for the current road ways that don’t get fixed for weeks or months and require six guys leaning on shovels while one or two work, to keep traffic held up with road signs? If you are going to find an objection, at least make it an in intelligent one and not just assumptions with no basis in fact.

            Or am I asking too much!

      • crazyman says:

        could we incorporate magnets into these roadways and make frictionless transport tht would be awesome.

      • Victor Reynauld says:

        It’s on Indiegogo That tells you it’s a scam RIGHT THERE. Indiegogo claimed to have protection for crowdsource investors but then they had a series of rapid fire frauds where people took the money and ran… So what did Indiegogo do? They deleted their statements about protections and replaced it with a “we’ll investigate claims” blog post.

        Giving money to projects on Indiegogo is the equivalent of gambling at a casino. You MIGHT see something for your money but chances are you just gave your money to make someone else rich.

        As for everyone else in this topic, I love how when someone points out the actual, practical, engineering impossibilities of this “plan”, they’re called an oil/gas shill. No, these limitations are things first year engineers understand.

        • Dave says:

          And third year engineers should be able to overcome if they haven’t got their heads up their own arses, or up the arses of big oil.

          • Aaron says:

            Pull all your heads out of your arses projects are never perfect first time many of the people posting on here on both sides have valid points. Political or business positions aside if everything isn’t in check shit projects get to production and brilliant ideas fail.

      • Venator1226 says:

        Proofs ???

        When will people learn that grammatical errors, spelling errors and use of slang ruins credibility

    • Scott says:

      In the early 90s solar technology wasn’t nearly as efficient and economical as it is today. Don’t make the silly mistake assuming that technology is static and that just because something was impractical 20 years ago it is still impractical today.

      • Freedom_road says:

        Then when its ready put together a real proposal with costs and feedback, pros and cons and sustainable plan for funding that doesn’t include taxpayer money and then we can talk. Until then maybe you could include some kind of car that hovers on magnetics and we won’t even have to touch the road then.

        • M. Byron says:

          Well fortunately no one is asking for your approval or opinion because you make statements that are ridiculously naive. You aren’t an engineer and you have no clue about the efficiency of modern photovoltaic panels. If you don’t have $5 to invest in a new technology I’m sure they will do fine without your help and they certainly seem to have been able to convince government scientists that it is worth looking into, despite not providing YOU with all the details.

          How freaking long would you need the video to be to fill you in on the details….get a grip!

        • Eravette says:

          Quick diversion. Robert A. Heinlein came up with both these ideas (well, in one case, the solar panels made the roads actually roll — “The Roads Must Roll.”) He also came up with the idea of vehicle levitation, in which an attraction\repulsion process allowed vehicles to travel along several inches above the roadway. Both these concepts were written about nearly 70 years ago.
          That said, I do think solar panels ON roads probably is not a good idea because of the dirt, scuffing, oil and other issues that would greatly reduce the amount of sunlight that would penetrate such tiles. Still, as someone else suggested, they might work well on sidewalks, plazas, parks, etc. as an addition to the electrical grid, but also as a way to make dark areas safer, create recreational opportunities, etc.
          Finally, though I mostly just listen to conversations such as this, I cannot see why people have to insult each other when discussing things they don’t agree about. No one is right about everything, and many points of input can help clarify and increase understanding for others who read your arguments and try to see what they can extract from such arguments.

    • p18n says:

      Wow. Climate change deniers and oil/gas/coal pundits reaching at vague concepts. All of these pitfalls were a given and seem to be well addressed. They are not valid, and I figured that most other engineers who have read up on this and have an ounce of applicable education (or at least some college) would have already thought a few steps ahead of these concerns:

      • Of course you can’t point roads at the sun, but the peak generation of electricity would follow the sun as a curve. Bumpy surfaces would also have an advantage of increased surface area for solar collection, so roads would have the ability to begin collection as the sun rises. Also, as we build these roads the technology will improve and power generation ratios will improve as materials are tested and reworked, or perhaps you have never wondered why our interstates are not built of macadam or made for Roman chariots?
      • Melting snow that falls in North Dakota at night would be melted by electricity carried there by the conduits on those roads from other areas of the grid – whether it was produced by other roads halfway around the planet or by your coal plant in wherever.
      • How do you think we pay for roads now? Taxes pay for roads. I have no problem paying higher taxes if builds a better infrastructure, enriches our lives and the lives our descendants (not to mention being better for the planet). Again, thinking a few steps ahead – try to keep up with me here.
      • Of course oil, gas, rubber, your empty beer cans, animal crap and meteorites will land on these roads. Again, this is a given. Having the entire road as a collector will minimize the effect of these, and I’m pretty sure that most of that crap is less absorbed by glass than asphalt. Again, as time moves on materials and construction methods will improve to minimize that issue as its effects are better studied, quantified and understood. Try thinking out of the box, ask a child how to solve this problem – my kid actually said to make tires out of something else entirely. She’s way ahead of you on this one, already.

      Please, go back to your conservative talk shows and keep teaching your kids that the earth is only 6000 years old. Argue about paying taxes because you are entitled to living how you want to at every else’s expense. The rest of us are already committed to working on the big problems of our time – just sit back down and watch some more daytime TV – we’ll take care of this.

      Oh, and “yes, you do work in the wrong field.” Please go back to school and get retrained for something more appropriate to your level of knowledge and foresight. I don’t care if you do have a Ph. D.

      • Megan says:

        THIS IS GOLD!

      • mike says:

        pie in the sky thinking, come back to reality. have you looked at prices for solar? the prices are ridiculous, they have to last 20-30 yrs without maintenance to pay for themselves if not longer in a lot of areas.

        its funny when people try to put people down by calling them a “climate denier”. they never try to convince them or even TRY to mention any “facts”. its the fact that youre DENYING “climate change” —like as if its a religion—

        • someone walking by says:

          it may take 20-30 years to pay for themselves, or even 50, but its still better than not gaining anything at all or like concrete and asphalt not pay for itself at all.. yes it make take a LOOOONG time for us to benefit from it, and we may even be dead by that time, but it’s still better and would help the future generations. :) just saying..

          let’s just not think if we(our generation) will benefit from it.. most arguments are because of it’s cost.. but it’s better to build now and benefit in the future than building and rebuilding things now that isn’t really doing anything..

        • steve says:

          It needs to be our religion, the planet may depend on us to evolve our ways. The existing religions have created lots of conflict and deaths, oh yay…

          As for this concept, who knows if it will really work/be worth more than it costs. Probably worthwhile to test it in at least a few areas to give it a chance, before we run out of fossil fuels – or frack any more (all fracking should be halted worldwide immediately, btw.)

        • C'mon Already says:

          Interesting…so we’ve had asphalt roads for decades. Have they paid themselves off yet? Oh wait, no, and they wont.

          • Gary says:

            Actually, the asphalt roads have paid for themselves MANY times over. The economic gains obtained by our road systems have far outstripped the costs of building them and maintaining them. There’s your fact, not fiction.

        • Climate change aside I don’t think any one would disagree clean energy would allow for cleaner air. At least there are people coming up with ideas. Pie in the sky? So were things like flying and traveling to the moon. Human ingenuity and dreams, lofty goals and yes, pie in the sky have contributed to things like fire and the wheel. It’s time we evolved beyond antiquated ways of doing things and started thinking of the future of our species. We are not immune to extinction. We should stop acting like we are. Our arrogance thinking we can continue indefinitely taking fossil fuels from the earth without consequences is fool hardy at the least.

        • Dan Minear says:

          Another small mind vents it’s limited capacity for grasping concepts, for grasping change (like in the climate), for grasping data…as for “they never try to convince them or even “TRY” to mention any facts” all I can say is that you need to go back to Fox News where they use big arm gestures and little words to explain the day…every word of explanation is lost on those who cannot hear, as evidenced by your inability to grasp the FACTS as laid out by science.
          Bozo.

      • JulieAnn Kelley says:

        I’ve read many of the comments from the naysayers and I can’t help but think how people thought Edison was insane with all of his crazy inventions. And Alexander Graham Bell, what if we had rejected all of his ideas ? Where would we be today. I’m shocked at how many of these naysayers can’t think out side of the box. Space Shuttles, Airplanes, Aircraft Carriers, who funded these inventions. These naysayers speak as though the government won’t fund these solar panels. The Government doesn’t really have any money, it’s our money, and I do believe We should be able to say how our money is spent. And yes as someone else has previously mentioned, some of these naysayers are afraid of change and advancement in technology because it won’t fill their pockets. And while I’m not a nuclear physicist I do know that this idea has a fairly good chance at being successful. I am a scientist in that I have a Bachelors in Science Degree. Ok, having said that, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that these panels can absorb the sun even on a cloudy day. When they aren’t able to absorb ample sunlight in some regions secondary to weather or any other situation, the inventors have solved that as shown in the video in case you missed that. They can draw energy from another source, a fail safe back up if you will. I have solar light all around the outside of my house, some of them are in the shade all day and light up at dark without fail every night.. Don’t fight progress………………………… Embrace it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • faldng says:

          Progress is great and so is having lots of ideas, but not every idea is a great one. People like that quote that says, first it’s ridiculed then it’s hated then it’s embraced or whatever. Yeah, sometimes. But sometimes it just doesn’t turn into anything at all

        • Amen!! It is OUR money. All the public servants, from trash collectors to the president, from the police to the firemen, all are on OUR payroll. Without us they haven’t a thin dime of their own except for what they pay in taxes and that even comes from US, the tax payers. And you are absolutely right. For consideration tax payers have funded wars, the highway system we have now, our politicians, wall street, car companies, countless other things and ideas, research etc. Many of which has never put a nickle in OUR pockets. I think we launch another project that just may benefit us far more than some of the things we’ve funded. I think it is time we stopped acting like the government is above us and started acting like what they are. Our employees. If we want solar highways we have the intellect and technology to make it happen. And we damn sure have the money. They just need to spend it the way we tell them to.

        • Rich says:

          Travelling vehicles and parked vehicles will block the sunlight from hitting the roadway surfaces. Traffic jams contain cars that will block the panels from absorbing sunlight. Energy will need to be stored and be made readily available to compensate for cloudy days and blocked sunlight due to shadows from buildings, cars, trees, clouds, pedestrians, etc. Imagine all the additional sensors, switches, actuators, relays necessary to compensate? WOW!!!

      • Steven says:

        Your arrogance is unattractive. Your intelligence is superficially wasted. Your opinions are biased and apparent. The science of photovoltaic problems and economies of scale exceed its benefit of return including the cost of producing glass and other rare minerals that must be mined out of mother earth for the electrical grid. I don’t belong to the party of NO but I do engage their practical business approach. I’ll keep my money and ideas invested in other forms of energy including HFC and NG.

        • Glass is a rare mineral? It’s made from sand. Not to mention it is recyclable. Any one can keep their money where ever they want, clean energy is the future. Solar, wind, water, geothermal, all will play a roll in producing future energy needs.

          • Monique Huchet says:

            At 76 years of age and counting, I hope the technology will have progressed and it will be accepted as normal by the time I reincarnate.
            All the arguments made are emotionally charged, can’t the technology be tested on small scale and give proof of its worth?

      • Pam Conner says:

        Please! All you libs out there who are turning this into a political issue need to STOP! “Conservative” means people who with to conserve. That makes all you libs conservatives, right?
        I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

        • Pam Conner says:

          LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea. I think it can and will work. I’d put these little solar beauties in my driveway right now if I had enough money. My husband and I are moving into a small, new house powered by solar in a couple of months. We were able to stay off the grid with 26 amps of solar for just over $2000. Now tell me solar freak roads can’t be done. I don’t believe it!

          • Ellzee Mason says:

            I am so sick of this “off the grid” phrase. First of all, no one in America is living “off the grid.” Secondly, ya’ll make it sound like you’re so righteous and self-sacrificing. What you’re REALLY excited about is saving the money on your electric bills, not saving the planet.

            Just heard John Kerry speak about global warming at Boston College’s graduation. Then as I walked across the campus I saw the TEN (count them) black Escalades that had been used to bring Kerry and his entourage to the campus. That would be after he’d flown there on his private jet.

            Yeah. Get over yourselves.

        • Like it or not this subject will become a political issue. Right or wrong it will come to that. It will go one of three different ways. It will be killed by the ones with the most money to lose. I don’t think any one needs to ask who they are. Or it will hang in limbo till it just goes away, or people will get behind clean energy and make it happen. We can take a lesson from Iceland. Practically all their energy is produced geothermally. If enough people get behind this politicians will use it as a tool to help them get elected.

      • James Murphy says:

        wow…what a biased rant! You instantly assume that anyone who says anything negative is somehow paid to do so, and is a creationist as well? I guess this is typical of the American propensity for conspiracy theories, and about your non-existent abilities to construct a logical and reasonable argument. How about you try thinking out of the box and developing some of your own opinions instead of mindlessly attacking others who do not agree with everything you have to say…? Behaving like you do, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

        This type of technology will have its uses, for sure, but will it really be the almost universal panacea which is claimed? Probably not. There is no single replacement for fossil fuels, there will have to be a variety of power generation methods.

        • You are right. Everything doesn’t spell conspiracy, but when it comes to BIG money nothing would surprise me. That aside you are 100% right it will take many forms of generating the power we need and will need in the future. I like the idea of solar roads. Seems very feasible. Then considering how much heat can be obtained from the earth geothermal energy is a great idea. Hydro electricity only requires moving water. How about we use the tidal cycles for energy? Then there is wind in some places. You could even install pressure pumps under roads so when traffic rolls over them it would pump air or liquid into turbines? The possibilities are about endless if we stop thinking we can’t do it any differently.

          • Eravette says:

            Geothermal – if we could somehow figure out now to tap off the heated gases from that huge underground volcano in Yellowstone that is supposed to be set to blow the center out of this country in somewhere between 100 and 100,000 years. The science shows I’ve seen about that say it is not the magma that will be the problem, but the gas that is being compressed above the magma, which will go off like a bomb. How much energy could we get from that if we could tap it – heat and pressure both. And if we could tap enough, maybe we could reduce the pressure to the point where it would NOT blow a huge hole in the middle of the US.

      • Freedom_road says:

        Ok genious, we are 17 trillion in debt and getting deeper everyday, yes we pay for roads now out of gas taxes and grants, but you are talking about an astronomical amount of money to do this and we will not be ready to start installing this for 20 years even if you plan today. Lay out the whole plan with a segmented implementation and include funding and training for a whole new bunch of “road technicians” but dreaming and calling other names that are trying to apply common sense to a broke government that is completely addicted to spending other peoples money with very little to show for it and I predict another government disaster!!! We still can’t even get people to agree that it’s a good idea to have I.D. to vote, one of the most precious parts of a democratic republic in a free society because people are obviously benefiting from fraud or hope to in the future. The money that was spent by the federal government and all the states combined (wasted) could have provided every man, woman, and child healthcare without this monstrosity called Obamacare.
        The expense you talk about is your hands in my pockets, and frankly we have enough or your dreaming and fantasies how about coming back to reality and doing something with your own money for a change, oh that’s right then you would have to give Obama back his phone, sorry! :-(

      • Aaron says:

        There is a reason tyres are made from rubber get your child to sort that.

    • max says:

      So why don’t you speak up on a .gov or .edu webpage about this pressing counter-argument? Not paid enough to put your reputation on the line? :) ~ciao

    • JP21345 says:

      There is nothing about this that’s meant as a fast buck. You and the author are both morons that have no idea what you’re talking about.

      1) As of 2013 photovoltaic cell’s are at 44.7% efficiency, not 15%(which is what their efficiency was. PV was expensive on a large scale 20 years ago. There is a reason people are using them on their roofs to generate electricity, and in sunny areas those people are producing a surplus of electricity.

      2) The panels are made in a way to resist damage, and those that are damaged are easily replaceable.

      3) Its called pressure washing.

      4) taxes and donations

      As for the snow and ice melting, electricity is diverted from other areas and back up batteries. Melting snow and ice really does not take that much energy. The surface just needs to maintain and reach a temperature of 32F. The same concept that melts and defogs your back window in your car. Also, heating the cells prior them being covered prevents snow and ice from forming on them to begin with, and lowering the cost of keeping them clear.

      • JP21345 says:

        edit*
        1) As of 2013 photovoltaic cell’s are at 44.7% efficiency, not 15%(which is what their efficiency was when they were first developed). PV was expensive on a large scale 20 years ago. There is a reason people are using them on their roofs to generate electricity. In continuously sunny areas those people are producing a surplus of electricity.

      • Ralph Holden says:

        Well said – the idea of some roadways being equipped with this type of solar panel is perfectly feasible – not so sure about motorways and constant heavy traffic and accidents.
        At least not yet…until the facility to replace large sections quickly had been achieved.
        However, these panels set into roads in suburbs, smaller towns and villages where heavy traffic could be banned or at least restricted would work and would also be an immediate benefit to the residents of these areas – say when snow falls. The residents would then be able to get to work on days that otherwise would mean they would have to stay at home because of the weather – thus maintaining their ability to earn their living and keep the economy going without any interruption.
        There is a long way to go on this before it would really work but it is surely doable…

      • Very good points. Very good indeed. I drove trucks for a living for awhile and I can tell you it really would have been great if the roads had stayed clear of snow and ice rather than trying to scrape and thaw them afterwards. Snow and ice can easily shut traffic down. It is crazy to think it doesn’t cost a fortune to keep roads clear in winter.

      • jschlue2 says:

        If you really think 32F is all it will take to melt a heavy snow with blowing and drifting you have another thing coming. By the way, one thing they’re promoting with all of this is how the roads will not only power themselves but also produce enough “free” energy to power everything at a rate of 3X what we need. Taking the energy to melt the snow from the grid defeats the purpose.

    • jon miller says:

      why don,t all you real smart people come up with better ideas then,instead of oil ruining our coastlines and fracking poisoning us,no mention of places like md. making permits so expensive that homeowner can,t even put solar in,no mention of kochs spending millions shooting down solar and windmill technology,you people who don,t support safe energy alternatives,don,t come crying when a nuke plant melts down near you,just was at ocean city md,oil residue and dispersents washing up all along the coast,brown foam sludge,congratulations!

      • Freedom_road says:

        As long as you blaming others why now throw in T.Boone Pickens who wasted over a billion dollars on alternate energy to find out it does not (at this point) create enough energy to replace our current energy needs.
        http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2012/04/11/t-boone-pickens-ive-lost-my-wind-power-jobs-are-oil-and-gas-industry

        I and many others are all for alternate means of energy production, but the fact is we are not, “as advertised” running out of oil any time soon and it provides a lot of energy. It will not go away over night, so why don’t some of you genious’ come up with safer ways to explore, drill, transport and use it instead of always trying to demonize those you don’t agree with?!
        And in the meanwhile still do research for the other options until they are viable on a larger scale. Have you ever been anywhere they have installed windmill farms? They are hideous to look at and kill thousands of birds many of which are endangered, why don’t I every hear any rights activists speak out on this issue?
        Try not being so one sided for a change, last time I checked the sky isn’t falling, New York city is not underwater, and we had one of the coldest years on record with record snowfalls.

        • Bill Cereske says:

          Bravo on your reasoned opinion. Nobody seems to get that this technology is new and needs to walk before it can run. There are plenty of places to test this concept before repaving the Interstates! I like the idea of trying out driveways, parking lots and playgrounds – to see if it actually works and may make financial sense. Could you imagine what fairs and parking lots at malls would do with it? Especially if it made a lick of economic sense, which PV on roofs is just beginning to do now.

          • Aaron says:

            Good Call

          • donna says:

            the only reAL PROBLEM with this(not counting cost and upkeep, i forsee is mother nature, and unfotunately she’s a mega-bitch.)What I really means is torrential rains causing mudslides, landslides, fires and as of late, SINKHOLES. nOTHING CAN STOP HER OR HER EVIL WAYS.

    • Oyi says:

      I get you. Of course every idea has its positive and negative reception and you have a point. But I have a simple solar LED light that gathers light from my window even if its not directly being hit by the sun since I got neighbors in apartment buildings taller than ours. It gathers that energy from the skylight bounced by the sun with its simple 3 inches by 5 inches panel attached in one of my jalousie window panels. The bulb consisting of about 20 small LEDs lights until dawn for a day’s solar charging. And I bought it for around only $6.
      I think solar road is not so far from possibility.

      • Eric says:

        Yes! But airplanes are not landing and car crashes aren’t happening on it. Also concerned about the quantity of chemicals/energy/REE needed to build the panel on a large scale in the first place.

        • Chris Wilson says:

          Your concerns are mere obstacles, it takes real visionary to realize what some say cannot be done. I agree in this case only to the extent that photo voltaic is not the most efficient but not all roadways are facing north are they? As I understand it each modular panel would consist of interconnected circuitry, the efficiency can be realized, composite materials will be required to service runways etc. but then again how tough is tarmac on a hot sunny day anyway? lets just start small and scale up, adapt and learn.

          I remember before I knew what I was qualified to talk about that; “things get done without the interference of those that know better”! Negativity is stifling, not knowing how to do something is no reason to dismiss its potential out of hand, I continue to prove people like you wrong on a daily basis and have done since I was a child c. 1973. Obstacles can be over come, compromises can be made and ideas can be realized because nothing is impossible to a pioneer, surrounding yourself with positively thinking people helps too. Where there is a will and all that…

          What these two individuals have done is nothing short of inspirational, they may not have all the right answers and may not be qualified to argue the toss, so its down to the rest of us to find solutions for their own shortcomings.

          Picking fault is denial, be true to yourself and embrace what you see, run with it. You will never be known or remembered for something you didn’t do.

          • Aaron says:

            I agree with you on a lot of fronts especially negativity but being right most of the time is just up yourself. Batteries are the biggest down fall to the whole process and production of panels is not environmentally friendly “yet”. It is a start and can be bettered but that is the point. Try to remember this all of you.

        • So I guess plane crashes and car crashes don’t happen on the runways and roadways we have now. And have you priced the cost to have your drive way paved?

          • Aaron says:

            Concrete 12 metres thick at Brisbane Airport Queensland Australia on main runway, solar panel?

      • That’s right. I have some solar path lights I’ve had for three or four years ago.Most of them still work. I’d say that’s pretty good efficiency considering they only cost a few bucks each.

    • YOURAFAG says:

      I want them to make solar roadways so they can power my slut 2000 fuck bot. It comes in various sizes and shapes. I’ve created one for you and Roy spencer called the incredible mandingo. Its a black bot with a 15 inch penis to ram into your dumb asses until you fucks realize that something has to change about the way we think of energy production. Now I know that with your educations and certificates and indoctrination it may take a while to fuck some sense into you but thats fine… It’s a robot, it never goes soft. Ok we get it, there may or may not be some engineering problems with it but take a look at the first models of any widely used technology that we use today i.e.. the computer that you used to put this garbage onto the internet. What did the first computer look like? Oh I’m sure everybody said that they were impractical and inefficient and blah blah blah but now look at them. Its called technological evolution. Now the two of you for the next week might wanna think about a high fiber diet and a little exercise so you can get ready to keep up with the incredible mandingo. he will be cuming soon.

      • Aside from your language and content…but then sometimes it takes strong language and content to make some people listen. Then you have those who never listen to any thing more than their own jaw flapping in the wind of their own hot air.

      • Aaron says:

        I don’t give a rats either way but I grew up in a community near Nimbin NSW and ferals don’t like working for anything taxes,income or innovation so get a grip, unemployment pays for fuck all lets move back into fucking caves with rocks.

    • Steve Robinson says:

      Hi, another engineer here, wtf is this all about, I’m in full agreement with you and the Prof and before the hippies go ranting about us all being oil and coal slaves how much environmental damage do they think would be caused by the mining of silica and precious metals to make the photo-cells? They don’t grow on trees ;o)

      Oh and I’m British, so we don’t entertain Muppet ideas in the same way as “instant solution- just throw money at it” Americans

      • David Mason says:

        You have prompted me to join the reples. You may be an engineer, but you certainly know nothing of British engineering history. So many wonderful inventions have come from these shores ~ negative attitudes have always failed.

        • Chris Wilson says:

          I’m a stones throw away from the same town as Percy Shaw (the inventor of cats eyes), thank god he didn’t listen to the naysayers in his day.

          Naysayers find excuses, the Pioneer just gets on with it!

      • yule says:

        we can start building these roads now and by the time we run out of coal and oil we can also run out of other precious minerals and metals. I’m sure adding a layer of silver with reinforcements of gold on the panels will increase their durability and life span. They can heat up the phosphorous found in human bones to light up the future and way to true progress.

      • Fossil fuels do not grow on trees either. At least solar energy is a renewable energy. Nor does it pollute the air. As far as being slaves to oil and coal, how about we just stop using them right now. No more cars, no more flipping a switch to turn on the lights, no more Wal-marts, no more of the way of life we know now. Grow your own food. Walk or ride horses or donkeys or whatever. As far as our Muppet ideas we must have done something right once. We kicked your British butts good once. And I don’t think many Americans believe throwing money at it fixes anything instantly.

        • Aaron says:

          You have just extolled every other nationalities view of your fucked up country. As pointed out the components of solar panels do not also grow on trees either. But from the only country ever to drop a nuclear weapon in anger and still drives V8′s as a privilege. What the fuck do we the rest of the world expect.

      • Aaron says:

        Oh boy it took an Englishmen to tell a bloody American that you can’t fix what them clowns fucked up. Thanks Steve Robinson

    • Richard Tellier says:

      I agree. It makes for good fantasy but not in reality. It looks cool and that gets people excited. Does anyone know what it takes to get new road materials into the infrastructure? To be approved for use by the government? Years and years of research on proving grounds. The best this would ever do is in the private sector and then you better turn to Google because they would be the only ones that would be able to afford a parking lot. It’s not practical, something the government also looks at. The costs would be monstrous.
      I also looked at ways to improve our roads. Something that was practical, make current roads longer lasting and could lessen the burden on taxpayers wallets. I was looking at geothermal methods for our roadways. When a section of roadway gets scheduled to be replaced then the piping would be placed in.
      A geothermal roadway would make roads cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Making for less wear from the elements and less road construction in the long run saving taxpayers money.At least that was the idea. Not as elaborate or sexy as solar panels but practical and a better shot of even making the testing grounds to be even considered by the government.

      • Although I agree with you on some points, when you think of the cost to re-pave a mile of road as we do now you wouldn’t be totally right. I’d be willing to bet solar roadways would hold up at least as well if not better than concrete and asphalt. Geothermal roads is a good idea but as far as costs go, I wonder how much money it would take to tear up the roads, bore the holes to get to the thermal energy, pay the pipe fitters and plumbers and electricians, and however many laborers it would take, to do that. One way or other it will cost lots, even if we do nothing at all.

        • Freedom_road says:

          Well I am just saying hypothetically now, I believe these new fangled roads you all are hyping have circuit boards in them and wires and such, just how do you think these will hold up in the Northeast and the midwest and Minnesota in the winter time?

          • M. Byron says:

            Hmmnnn…”New Fangled roads”…circuit boards and wires and such” …sounds like we’e hearing from an electrical engineer here who is well versed in modern photovoltaic design. Excuse me while I snicker a bit!

            Of course it won’t work on every single road, all the time and you know what, it doesn’t produce power at night either hahaha… but that is no reason for not having it installed on 70% of the roads in the country and producing just double the energy requirements for the country is it!

            Gees, where do these people crawl out from??

          • Aaron says:

            Thanks M. Byron for your input, you paying, your economy seems to dictate to the planet.

    • James Jones says:

      Wow! Do not be concerned. If it’s not practical than it will not take. No where in this do I see you proposing a solution to a very real energy problem. We will never progress with this kind of negative attitude.

      • Bill Cereske says:

        James, you make a good point. They have a grant for a demonstration project. That seems like a decent investment, let’s see what it can do. The DOT grant seems to be for a road demonstration, let’s see what it can do in that and other applications.

        It may or may not be viable. Even if it isn’t, we will have learned some lessons.

        I think we need to try it out in playgrounds, fairgrounds, driveways, sidewalks and parking lots before we start ripping up the Interstates.

    • M. Byron says:

      Learn a few facts before making your uninformed statements. The project was highly opposed by the Australian Coal industry which provides virtually all the hydroelectric power in Australia, and their lobbyists were effective in encouraging (bribing) enough politicians to pull the funding for the project. Scientists can be bought and sold on any issue, they have always been available to corporate lobbyists for the right price.

      It wasn’t technical facts, it was blatant corporate pressure to stifle renewable energy projects, that would reduce the demand from power plants, which succeeded to quashing the project. Helped along of course by uninformed Joe public that always like to jump on the band wagon of skepticism when they really have no facts.

      A skeptic is just someone who doesn’t know all the facts but feel the world needs to hear from them anyway….lol

      • Bill Cereske says:

        Maybe I’m just being cheeky, but since when did the Coal industry start operating hydroelectric plants?

      • Aaron says:

        You travelled in Australia big damn country hey 25000000 million people suppose your trust fund will pay for trial.

    • SchylerSilvey says:

      This is a great topic for debate! Honestly in my opinion I believe that this is a step in the right direction however not practical as of yet. This reminds me of how before modern streets we had dirt paths and as an improvement society made brick roads and streets which inevitably lead to the creation of the modern streets know today. I view the solar panel street idea as a kinda brick street equivalent, as in having the right idea but not not so much that it should be the standard quite yet… In many ways a simple dirt path was more practical than the brick street, it took the radical advent of the brick street to get to where we are today. There are some issues with the solar panel idea; such as (like this blog said) traffic leaving scuff marks and the unlikely odds of these panels being able to withstand the wait of perpetual traffic. In order for these issues to be fixed you would first have to have like a special road buffer team to repeatedly clean the the glassy surface which wouldn’t be any different from what current DOT workers do already, though probably much easier as far as labor is concerned however I have a serious issue with the material itself and I question how well it can actually hold up against traffic because the continual replacement of panels would be quite distasteful… Unless they use a transparent material that is stronger, more durable and lighter than asphalt then I would revoke my worry however even if they could it would require some serious chemical blending and this fact alone would destroy the whole environmentalist aspect of it’s claims (though that doesn’t bother me.) Another issue is the cost of installment, though yes one could argue that at least momentarily jobs would become available however that doesn’t change the fact that other jobs would be destroyed, how many companies that thrive off modern street and highway construction would collapse in the wake of mass solar panel street installation? And one final issue, what if there was a grid malfunction and the digitally lit yellow lines were not illuminated in the middle of the night? As I said, its a step in the right direction but it is not currently what I would call logically practical for the time being.

      • Aaron says:

        Highly agree but with current technology we think the process takes half the time but it doesn’t. In reference to Mike things happen faster now but shouldn’t.

      • donna says:

        HOW ABOUT BUILDING THE ROADS ON STYROFOAM BLOCKS? EVER HEARD OF THAT? THIS IS ALSO BECOMING THE NORM, who woulda thunk it?The people who are trying to build a better tomorrow, THAT’S WHO!!!!!!

    • Mike says:

      This is the attitude many had prior to the inventions of the light bulb, horseless carriage, and powered airplane flight. Maybe we need to fund a sampling of a project like this and see what develops. I’m sure Wilbur, and Orville would agree.

    • alex emit says:

      the cost of solar panels have dropped and are continuing to drop significantly, as this graph demonstrates. It is reasonable to assume that the price of solar panels will continue to decrease, so why be so skeptical about this? Just because something can’t be done right now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen eventually. Im sure the switch to solar roadways will be a very gradual process that will accompany a general move to clean energy etc. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/12/daily-chart-19

    • Rasputin says:

      People tried it in the 90s and it didn’t work so of course it will never work! Because technology doesn’t evolve and advance, those idiots. In the early 1900s they could only get an airplane off the ground for 20 seconds and we know they never got further than that technology. Computers processed 56kb/s in the 90s and we know that tech never advanced. These idiots really think solar energy will advance? Oh, except countries like Germany and Portugal have solar power that exceeds energy production from fossil fuels. Oops! Meanwhile, Americans afraid of what clean energy will cost are still giving BILLIONS of free taxpayer money to oil and coal companies who already make trillions in profit and poison our air and water. Geniuses, we are.

    • Sedd Doga says:

      you do realize that people scoffed at automobiles and scoffed at computers and scoffed at solar panels…. before other people who passionately believed in the idea kept working on it and shared ideas and finally made it work.

      yes with the technology of even a few years ago the cost was ridiculously huge compared to sticking with conventional means. But again, when computers were first introduced they required so much money and material that no one who was not a millionaire would be able to own one.. now any idiot ( see comments sections on most articles on the internet for proof) can have one for relatively little.

      as for the comment by the person who wrote this article… did you even see the information in their video? The article stated that the above pic with the snow that the panels would contain heaters that would keep the roadway panels heated a few degrees above freezing.. ie taking the energy it pulled because of the solar panels to run the heaters. and since.. if you followed the whole thing and read the rest about conduits next to the roads, i would assume that the roads would all connect and be part of a large grid ( hopefully with some fail safes to keep one part of the grid from crashing the whole thing) which would mean that roads that got more sun would be able to share their extra power with the roads that do not.

      it is ambitious of this couple and those who support them, but if you look at what they are trying to do and stop jumping to conclusions ( as the writer of this article did) you can see that it needs work but it has alot of potential.

    • Fritz says:

      This is a good idea. Maybe not perfect, but they have 2 pilot projects in the works, so I hope they get it to work. I think the panels will charge batteries that will then power heating elements to melt the snow. And they mention starting at home with driveways and sidewalks and public areas. That is a great place to start . I also have my doubts about heavy traffic on these panels, but I wish them all the best with the pilot projects. To all the people that reject it out of hand. Try being more open minded, give it a chance. Doing nothing will take us to the end of fossil fuel supplies in however many years with all its accompanied pollution , and then what ?

    • Bill Wood says:

      Very seldom are all the pros and cons known about a new idea until it has been thoroughly tested, but this seems like it’s worth a shot, at least on a limited scale at first. The world is round…… REALLY!!

    • Tim Faulkingham says:

      Why not put it through a trial in natural conditions, and in a northern climate with significant snowfall, collect the data, and then look at the pros and cons? Instead of denouncing it as a scam, if there is an investor out there with a few million to put on the line and sees a profit potentially. Don’t knock it till you try it…..

    • Fotis Hois says:

      You, myopic mole! Instead of trying desperately to find problems with a concept that wasn’t imagined by you, why don’t you try to find solutions for your alleged problems? Typical critic, lacking the talent and the imagination and bringing everyone higher than you to your own, lowly level. Can you not see that this is the answer to most, if not all of our energy problems, can you not see that this may set us free from under the yoke of the power cartels, and may go as far as eliminating famine from all the world? Use your imagination, I am sure you have a little left!

    • Rick says:

      the technology wasn’t avalable back in the 90′s but you can’think that just because they couldn’t do something in the past , we cant do it in the future.
      after all imagine all those people who done stupid things trying to fly then saying ” well that didn’t work guess we’ll never fly”
      Good thing you didn’t decide to go to the moon.

    • Charley says:

      I love it when someone says an engineering project is impossible. What they are actually saying is “I don’t know how to do it!” Trans Atlantic phone cable? Golden Gate Bridge? Microwave communication? They are formerly “impossible” engineering projects. Any engineer worth his/her salt should be able to acknowledge that just because I don’t have all the how-to ideas doesn’t make the project SILLY, it simply is about your personal skill set.

    • Joshua says:

      This koch bros paid for opinion is rooted in ignorance and arrogance! greed and corruption rule the world. These assholes better beef up the security on their castles before the peasants realize they have been hoodwinked!

    • JulesDB says:

      Why don’t you guys come with better ideas, instead of bashing the ones that excist?
      About the Australian sun thing, they were right, there is a race every year in Australia for cars who run on solar panels. The reason the project was abandomned was money, as is always the problem.

  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/98GL00499/pdf

    Dr. Spencer. here is a study which shows why many of us feel there is indeed a solar/climate relationship. This may be off topic , but I want you to at least be aware of this type of study.

    I know you have a very open mind when it comes to the climate and entertain all kinds of opinions and thoughts.

    Thanks

    • Karl Schipul says:

      “Dr. Spencer. here is a study which shows why many of us feel there is indeed a solar/climate relationship. This may be off topic , but I want you to at least be aware of this type of study.”

      What does this have to do with turning solar panels into roadways? What does this have to do with the very real issue of these panels having to endure the weight, wear and tear of millions of tons of vehicles every day?

      NOTHING.

      Are you sure you are on the right page?

      • alex emit says:

        the cost of solar panels have dropped and are continuing to drop significantly, as this graph demonstrates. It is reasonable to assume that the price of solar panels will continue to decrease, so why be so skeptical about this? Just because something can’t be done right now doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen eventually. Im sure the switch to solar roadways will be a very gradual process that will accompany a general move to clean energy etc. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/12/daily-chart-19

  3. It could be they meant the snow melting feature to be if you pumped electricity INTO the road surface. But that would be hugely expensive…probably use more electricity than the road would generate.

    Plus, my point still stands…extracting electricity out of the road surface will REDUCE snow melt.

    • Richard says:

      Does the suns energy get through the snow to the solar panel first to even let this happen or does the subs energy melt the snow on the panel first.

      • Andrew says:

        Melting snow is impractical, at least to the point that they say (never needing to plow etc). With more than half of snowfall occurring overnight and the rest during thick cloud coverage, I could hardly see any snow melt occurring without pumping electricity into the roadway or using the roadways own energy stores. In the north, our road lines are repainted annually because plows tear them up. So how well do these individual pieces hold up when natural expansion from below lifts a line of pieces, even one inch above the others, and gets hit with a plow or other vehicle?

        The idea of maintenance is daunting. The cost to fill a pothole is very little, but with these roadways a broken piece would be expensive and require more expensive labor. We would also have to consider the safety hazards that would come from accidents, breakage, and flooding. Having all road lines done electronically is a bad idea. If there was a failure in the system there would be a lot of confusion and a lot of accidents. Imagine the crosswalk failing to activate while your 7 year old is crossing the road to school.

        Unless we can manufacture these pieces to stay very flexible, transparent, have 100% stable software, and be electronically stable overall for decades without expensive maintenance or replacement, this idea isn’t going anywhere.

        • Evan says:

          Maybe each panel would have its own battery back-up which it would pull energy from to melt the snow. That way it would just be using a small amount of stored energy to allow for a greater energy input since the snow would be cleared. From an energy perspective, white snow isn’t great at absorbing heat, so it’d take a lot more of the sun’s light energy to melt it down than if stored energy from the panels were used as heat to melt it down.

        • Scott says:

          The panels would be tied into the regional grid. If snow falls on some of the panels, energy from non-affected areas (and also probably from conventional power plants) would be diverted to heat up the affected ones and melt the snow. Snow plows would become obsolete, so it doesn’t matter if a panel gets raised slightly.

          It’s true that solar roads in areas with lots of snow fall would not produce a positive net amount of energy, but their main advantages would be road safety. No more snow covering the roads, warning systems for large animals and pedestrians due to pressure sensors and LEDs, and improved visibility due to LEDs.

          Photovoltaics are very cheap, and they’d become even cheaper if this plan was realized due to economies of scale. Replacing damaged cells wouldn’t be more expensive than today’s road repairs.

          And it’s not a new technology. Software to regulate photovoltaics has been around for decades, and speaking as an electrical engineer it’s very simple software, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

          • Alvaro says:

            Don’t forget that melting water (or snow) is one of the most unefficient processes. It takes absurd amounts of energy to heat water as it has one of the highest specific heats in the whole list of known substances. Imagine the amount of heat necessary to maintain the panels above the 0ºC in a blizzard where the temperature can be of order -30ºC. It means to maintain a 30ºC difference of tempearture in a huge surface. It is impossible (or insanely expensive) to pump enough energy into the surface to maintain such a high temperature difference with respect to the ambient and melt all the snow that is being deposited. It’s just too much.

            The problem with this technology is not that it is impossible (which is not) or that it is extremely, death-star-building-cost expensive. The problem is that of all the available surface to install solar power, why do we have to install it in the most dusty, polluted, mechanically punished surface with the need to use the most expensive advance, non-optimized tech and materials. Why not first fill the f****ing roofs with efficient and not absurdly expensive pannels? It will be cleaner, more efficient, and cheaper. It is crazy because it is just like starting the house by the roof.

        • Daniel Cole says:

          Sounds like the same arguments that occurred among wagon wheel makers and horse breeders when the automobile came along. Although not perfect when first invented, look at it now, 100 years later.
          About time we in this world stopped tramping everything that that comes along in the way of progress just to save a few fortunate sons in the current business world.
          If we are not progressing, we are dying.

        • Elias says:

          I’m not claiming to be a smart intellectual but I just have to ask. Wouldn’t it be good to know before you make the claim that solar Roadways are inefficient, how much electricity it costs to send to the road to melt the snow, versus the amount of energy it costs to pump, ship, and burn oil in a large snow plow that sometimes has to make 3 to 4 paces on the same road during one night. Keeping in mind that the truck is using energy to push snow forward and sometimes even lift it against gravity when the solar roadway just lets gravity once it is melted carry it to the built in storm drain.

          Again I don’t know that is why I am supporting the testing of the technology to find out because nobody on this website or anywhere that I can think of has made the claim that our current systems are sustainable long term. Therefore why not try and see what happens it is not like we don’t waste money on other stuff that is by far less important.

        • M. Byron says:

          “The cost to fill a pothole is very little, but with these roadways a broken piece would be expensive and require more expensive labor.”……Really!!!

          Have you ever calculated what it costs to bring in a road crew with the equipment to heat the asphalt and repair it properly? I don’t think so.
          And as any other piece of electronics, they can be made on mass in China or India like every other piece of electronics in your home today at a very cheap price and replaced very quickly.

          You are grabbing at straws in your fears about the road not lighting up. If some panels were damaged, only those LED’s wouldn’t light up, not the whole road. The power is interconnected to be rerouted around damaged panels, no individual panel controls the whole road surface.

          And you know what. The cross walks don’t light up right now when a child tries to cross them do they? And the government wouldn’t obviously remove all traffic signs…use some common sense!

          If they are only used on roadways in the lower states which might get one or two inches of snow all winter, and doesn’t last on the ground for more than a day, it is still a tremendous advantage in power generation. Stop looking at all the reasons it won’t work and realize the reasons it will work very well in many areas.

          • djrogers says:

            Considering our town DPW fills the potholes year end and year out it doesn’t cost a lot of money. You clearly do not live in an area of heavy snow. There’s no way this would make plows obsolete. Keep smoking your pipe there buddy.

          • Aaron says:

            Build it in China or India, ok to stuff the environment cheaply in another country just not ours. A-typical American

        • Sedd Doga says:

          each panel would be connected to another and that to another and then that whole road would connect to the next road and the next… and power would be able to be drawn from warmer, sunnier areas and stored in.. omg batteries. think of it as a huge grid… like fios… you have a hub that supplies the main source, and it is fed out into the grid to power the rest.so that if you have a major snow storm in the north, the power would be shunted and redirected from the south.

          and the main point is… this is the prototype and there will be improvements and there will be changes as things either work or dont work. As their video says, they hope to start small with personal homes, driveways, walkways…. and eventually connect everything via the streets.

    • Txantimedia says:

      You might start by reading their FAQ. A lot of your concerns are addressed there.

    • mike olsa says:

      you know i had this idea many years ago, although ive never contemplated the problems. If this is suce a problem why not use kinnetic pressure plates under the road or the surface to transfer movement and pressure into energy?

      if you feel like awnsering mikeo_platnum@yahoo.com

    • david medina says:

      Hi Roy

      1) The Solar Roadways has 3 important features (NOT TOTALLY TESTED YET). Initial tests say that each feature is independent (Solar energy recollection, heating element, storm water treatment). There is electronics, software, hardware behind all of this features that have to be tested and enhanced much more as we speak. It is good to have doubts and critics, but do not kill the project yet. More info wil come later.

    • Scott says:

      Extracting electricity would not reduce snow melt. That’s absurd. Snow melts slowly from sunlight because it’s white color reflects much of the energy. If you instead heat the panels from energy diverted from other parts of the grid, the snow will melt far faster than with conventional roads.

      You are correct that roads in heavy snow areas would not produce more electricity than they extract. So what? The safety features of the panels still make it worthwhile, and some of the heating costs would be recouped on days when it doesn’t snow.

      • Paul says:

        Scott, have you looked at the energy required to melt snow?

        I looked into adding a hydronic snow melt system to melt our concrete garage apron. The design of a snow melt system has many variables, wind speed, ambient temperature, backside insulation, etc. And you just can’t melt the snow, you have to do a complete phase change or you’re just making ice.

        The Wirsbro design guide shows approximately 126 BTU/h per sq foot, using 132F fluid temperatures. My 1,700 sq foot apron would need 215,000 BTU/h, and require a boiler over 4 times bigger than my home has.

        Converted to electrical, that’s ~36W sq/ft. For reference, properly positioned PV panels can generate about 12W sq/ft.

        A single mile of two-lane roadway (24′x 1 mile) is around 127,000 sq ft, a little over 4.5 megaWatt/hrs.

        • Matt says:

          Finally! Someone who used some numbers to back their statements!
          Here is another point to consider. Just how much e-waste would be produced by these panels every year? Also, the efficiency of this system cannot be very good unless several hundred panels are put in series to bring the voltage up. Trying to transmit low voltage DC power is a useless gesture. The only way to step up the voltage is using a transformer and that requires an inverter to make the DC from the panels into AC. This will cause a hit in efficiency not to mention more cost. Another annoying aspect is that solar panels age and as they age they efficiency goes down from an already poor number to something worse. They do this over the course of about 20 to 25 years! So by the time you get a few roads made with these thing, they will need to be replaced.
          Overall it is an interesting idea but not really practical.

          • Aaron says:

            Yee Haa common sense

          • Sedd Doga says:

            um…. each panel will be connected to other panels, which will connect for each road and each road will connect to other roads. is that a big enough solar panel grid for your voltage requirement ( not sure of the mileage of the roads just in the US but im thinking its quite a bit).

      • Sedd Doga says:

        the roadways would be connected which means the roads that are exposed to more direct sunlight would be able to supply the power to those that do not get it.

        also adding a heating element as well as traditional roadway technology ( ie slanting the road so water runs off) would take care of any other issue since the water would run off before it could be refrozen ( since all the panels it runs over are also heated) and the runoff would go into a duct to be moved either into sewer systems or off into the drainage at the sides of roads. while they need more work to make it efficient, it is a very viable theory.

        I think most people do not get that each panel is connected to the next panel and not independent… and that each road will be connected to other roads, which would allow energy surplus from areas with little snow or rain… to be rerouted to areas with little direct sun.

    • YOURAFAG says:

      You are just saying things. I can do that to check it out. Solar roadways would generate so much power that they could refreeze all the arctic glaciers and cool the planet by an average of .5 degrees a year until climate stability is achieved. They can also prevent things like fukushima from ever happening because solar panels don’t use large amounts of highly radioactive materials in facilities on the coast of our incredible bio diverse oceans (not to mention food supply) that contaminate life as a whole on this planet for 100,000 years. solar roads won’t pump hundreds of millions of gallons of petroleum and dispersants into our oceans creating a toxic environment that causes mass deformities and cancer in a wide array of marine life. I know what your thinking, who cares about the ocean right? Solar roadways eliminate a huge amount of carbon and sulfite emissions being pumped into the atmosphere as well but i know how you scientist types like to party, huffing that stuff gets you all jacked up to write stupid articles about technology that could actually make a difference in the way we are producing energy. Ok mr. nasa scientist phd, you come up with something useful and then go out and get funding for it and do all the necessary work that it takes to get a technology like this started. Get a better idea or shut the fuck up and stop hating. Its you so called intellectual types that can’t except someone else’s good idea because you weren’t smart enough to come up with it first so you try and poke holes in it to make yourself feel better for being a failure. I hope that these solar roadways change the world and you are left with your dick in your hand looking stupid.

      • KenKin says:

        and you call others “haters”. that is rich.

      • Bill Cereske says:

        Ooh, Myyy.

      • Aaron says:

        Oh Gee wasted space alert most scientists and engineers live by a code like doctors. Yes they can be paid off but like your dumb shit comments they too are stupid. Check some facts not ferals it is a step forwards but not a leap. Pull your head in as smarter ones are working on it.

      • Shadow says:

        I don’t like your foul language,, but I do like your interests in the ocean… I am an electronics engineer,, I have been working on ideas all my life,, I like this one,, but I have read all the posts here,, and everyone seems to come up short of reality.. I live in Oregon,, and here, the runoff of snow would cause great catastrophe to our eco system.. the snow might melt,, but the run off would cause more problems than just the few issues you all have mentioned.. keep it simple,, use it on the city streets, and parks, as well as rural driveways, I think, is a great idea.. but putting it on our main roads here in Oregon, would be a disaster.. I am currently working on a VEU Vortex Electric design to put on every home in our great country, that costs the tax payers nothing, and generates enough electrical energy to power each building it is applied to.. and it is not on any grid system to be taxed or abused by any large corporations gain… so in short,, great idea, but simplicity is the key, make it simple to make, and americans as well as the world population with go for it… meets every-ones needs, and would work for most areas everywhere.. I like it,, but… Shadow

    • Matt says:

      I can’t help but point this out since it seems no one else made this point.

      Most people who own solar panels don’t save much money in the winter. My aunt’s neighbor in LA makes a surplus in the hot summer months, meaning the electric company PAYS HIM because his panels are producing more than he’s using. He then uses that surplus to offset his more expensive electric bills in the winter months. Over the course of a year, he still spends money on electricity, but the amount he saves every year adds up to the point where they’ve definitely paid for themselves by now.

      Clearly solar panels will get minimal amounts of energy if they’re absorbing sunlight through a layer of snow. That’s why I assumed the heating element of these panels would be used only in cases of snow emergencies, tapping into the surplus energy gained from the hotter summers. I would be shocked if the cost of an electric current running through a road system would cost substantially more than the cost of plowing those same roads, especially if you consider how this would prevent almost all car accidents caused by snowy conditions.

      What’s my point? These road panels may lose money in winter months, but those losses will be offset by their gains in summer months, which is inherently the case with ANY solar panel system in our climate here in the US. There are plenty of actually legitimate reasons to not like this idea that you could have chosen from. Here are a couple that are worth mentioning:

      - The cost of implementing this infrastructure throughout the whole country will be too time-intensive and expensive to ever be realistically possible

      - Programming the LED lights on all roadways will require a lot of hacked coding, which will be prone to bugs. Legal recourse will need to be considered for cases of an LED malfunction leading to a motor accident

      I’m sure if you put your mind to it, there are more reasons to avoid solar roadways. But please, enough of the “sun can’t get through snow” argument it’s really dumb and you’re missing the point.

    • Kevin says:

      Mr. Roy,

      To start with I AM skeptical with a “mom and pop” organization being the main researchers on this. However, if the roadways are collecting energy and pumping it into the electrical network AND if there is a large portion of the roadways interconnected to this network, then when there is snow on one portion of the road it will only be on that “segment” (I understand that the segment would be quite large as weather systems tend to be). If all the roadways are interconnected it would be able to siphon electricity from one area into the snow covered area thus providing itself with the electricity needed to melt the snow. It’s not hard to put a sensor that monitors temperature in an area that could swap the panel from energy absorption to effectively becoming an over-sized heated tile.
      Now that being said there IS the matter of dirt, oil, etc. collecting on the roadways. You would need to have street sweepers/cleaners for all of the roadways. This is both a pro and a con. The upkeep costs would be around the same as when snowplows are in service however this will also create jobs. Now if the roadways (once fully converted) generate even 1/8th of the proposed energy this is going to cause a problem for power plants and their workers. What kind of thought has been put into this I don’t know but it’s the field I was looking into going into so (at least for me) there is that issue.
      Either way, whatever happens will happen and I’m going to try to make the best of the situation and I feel that you could at least take a page out of my book and try to look for some form of silver lining. Brevis ipsa vita est sed malis fit longior, good sir.

      • mustard says:

        “Now if the roadways (once fully converted) generate even 1/8th of the proposed energy this is going to cause a problem for power plants and their workers. What kind of thought has been put into this I don’t know but it’s the field I was looking into going into so (at least for me) there is that issue.”

        I feel they same way about all those poor people who lost their jobs when the bottom dropped out of the mustard gas market……

        Dino oil will not last forever!

  4. Jim Cox says:

    To answer your question about ‘Who would pay?’, if this gets into the next Highway bill, Congress would use highway dollars to pay for this losing proposition. They’ve done things like this during my 40 year career as a highway engineer.

    • Chuck Nolan says:

      Jim, it sounds like congress has a special pot of money for this and they won’t have to borrow 45 cents on every dollar to do it.
      cn

      • WizGeek says:

        If “congress[sic] has a special pot of money,” it’s because they’ve already “borrowed” (i.e., extorted) it in the form of taxes. It’s splitting hairs to distinguish between past taxation and future taxation.

        • Aaron says:

          All taxation is used to pay for all, extortion is in the realms of tree hugging greenies the pot does not live at the end of the rainbow.

  5. Chuck Nolan says:

    How much damage will be done by metal shards gouging the roads during accidents and breakdowns?
    One piece of discarded chewing gum could stop a cell’s output.
    cn

    • Ashley Stevenson says:

      Or what about snow chains or snow tyres?

      • Evan says:

        Supposedly the snow would be melted by the panels, so cars wouldn’t need anything to help with traction.

        • Gooser says:

          So where does all this melted snow go?Rapid snow melt off a heated surface…… where will the ice be?

          Im sure you all have seen rivers rise from gradual melting..Where does all the melted snow go?

          • Shadow says:

            thank you,, someone who understands snow finally,, the runoff is a major problem with any roadway,, even snow plows make a bigger problem here in Oregon.. runoff,, think about that one. melt the snow too fast,, and cause bigger disasters somewhere else.. like in the city.. rivers rise too fast, and streets get flooded, dams break, and forests get washed away.. some thought would have to be implemented there too.. just a start,, still like the ideas,, but,, Shadow

    • Scott says:

      Damaged cells can be repaired, and with the rapidly dropping prices of photovoltaics this wouldn’t be any more costly than today’s road repairs.

      Chewing gum might slightly reduce a single cell’s output (not shut it down – don’t be absurd), but so what? There would be millions of them if this plan came to fruition.

      • Scott Benzie says:

        With so many roads in disrepair today why would you think these panels would be any better. Do you need an electrical engineer to replace them? Today someone making about 15 – 20 dollars an hour fix our roads, would it not be more costly and more difficult do to lack of skilled labor? what happen after twenty years of traffic, polished glass that’s what.

        • Zack Time Lord McGee says:

          The average DOT worker makes $28.00 per hour. I would speculate that the panels would be plug and play and it looks like they only take about 4 or 6 bolts to put them in place. Since the system is already up and running, lets speculate on the steps involved in replacing a damaged panel. Call it a thought experiment.

          1. Remove the substance that is between the damaged panel and the rest of the panels.
          2. Remove the bolt covers.
          3. Remove the retaining bolts.
          4. Remove the damaged panel.
          5. Check the connection for the removed panel. If damaged replace. If not damaged proceed.
          6. Install new panel.
          7. Tighten retaining bolts.
          8. Install bolt covers.
          9. Replace the substance used to bond the panels together.

          Seems simple enough to me. I expect that someone that is getting payed $28.00 per hour to deal with asphalt and/or concrete would jump at the chance to not have to work with that material day in and day out.

          • Steven R says:

            That’s a simple enough repair all right. It also repairs a tiny area of the road by comparison. Think about how fast concrete or asphalt is paved. The do a full lane’s width and they move several feet each second!

  6. Bert Walker says:

    Even now firefighters won’t approach a burning house, that has photovoltaics on it’s roof, due to the high risk of electrocution.
    Imagine the electrocution that could occur in a motor vehicle accident. It’s going to be even more ugly. No one is going to rush to the aid of an unfortunate victim for fear of electrocution.

    • Scott says:

      Each solar cell has a very low voltage. If they’re connected correctly, there would be no more risk of electrocution than with our current system of underground electrical cables.

      • Paul says:

        Other than no way to shut them off. If they’re low voltage, how are they inter-connected? Is there isolation between them? What’s the MTBF of the electronics inside?

        It’s a wonderful idea, but the implementation details are going to kill it. Maybe for a sidewalk for show, but a roadway surface has to be pretty tough. We see what 10 inches of reinforced concrete looks like after a few winters.

  7. Theo Lichacz says:

    Now for something a little bit more revolutionary ……

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Paintable_plastic_solar_cells_using_quantum_dots

  8. rah says:

    Hazmat spills? A gasoline tanker rolls over? Lots of nasty stuff being transported in big trucks and a lot of it is transported in standard dry van trailers holding containers. I wonder how those cells would react to liquids near the extremes of the pH scale?

    • Scott says:

      They’re coated in hardened glass, so they’d probably react very little. There’s a reason why beakers and test tubes are made of glass.

      • Mort says:

        All that is required is reaching the melting point of glass. Throw in liquid draining through the cracks between the panels and you introduce areas of potential damage. Hardened glass doesn’t mean damage proof.

        • rah says:

          And exactly what holds the glass in place and seals between the cells? And GLASS for traction in wet weather, hail or sleet? BTW how would they stand up to THIS? http://fox59.com/2014/05/16/i-465-southbound-closed-after-vehicle-fire/

          This kind of thing happens all the time. In this case I know the team drivers that had this accident. As an OTR trucker I see vehicle fires pretty frequently and have been involved in helping out at a couple. I’ve had bundles of steel reinforcing bar fall off a truck in front of me. Seen chains being dragged down the road behind trucks. Steel coils weighing 20 tons thump down on the road surface.

          All one has to do when driving on the interstates is pay attention to see all the scars on the road surface and shoulders from vehicle fires, drag marks from metal and other impacts.

          According to FEMA almost one in seven fires in the United States requiring emergency response involves a motor vehicle and temperatures in vehicle fires can reach 1,500 deg F. Sure there are plenty of industrial glasses that can stand much higher temps than that but what about the thermal shock? That’s another thing altogether. And what about the low melting points of metals that are good electrical conductors.

          And repair/construction? Delays are bad enough all ready.

  9. slp says:

    Both glare and traction, I would imagine, would be problems with a material transmissive enough to allow light to pass through.

    • Scott says:

      The panels are dimpled, so traction would not be an issue. The photovoltaics beneath the glass are black and green, so glare would not be an issue. Watch the promo video or look at some pictures…

      • Anon says:

        There will be glare off of the glass itself, though. Even with a dimpled surface the glass is going to put out a lot of glare; if it’s going to be transparent, it’s also going to be reflective when the light hits it at the right angle. Sunset or sunrise would be like trying to drive on a mirror.

  10. Kayla says:

    Theo Lichacz
    That is awesome! We need to use technology like that to our advantage and stop worrying about upgrading cell phones and stupid little stuff.

    And also, someone with a phd should know not to be so quick to bash a good idea, but to contribute his knowledge to the idea and make it better. Mr Roy. W. Spencer .
    Embrace the change. This is the direction we should be headed, and by direction I mean trying to help our envoronment be clean and utilize things like roadways, big buildings, parking lots and other things that could be multi purpose to harness the suns energy and cut costs for people in all different sorts of bills in time, the way our society is sucking away alot of our resourses. Just take take take and dont give anything back to the environment, and dont care about it. I think this is a good idea and it could be the start of a huge change to better the environment, to make more jobs and make jobs for those who would potentially lose there jobs because of this, and to point peoples minds in the right direction. Yes the idea is not perfect and it needs some changes but its a good start. And I dont think you need a phd to know that.
    Just saying.

    • Scott says:

      Kayla,

      I take it your an engineer?

    • Some ideas are simply too stupid to save, Kayla. If you want more jobs, let’s just have 1/2 the people dig holes and the other 1/2 fill them up again. I’m all for good ideas…but if we reward stupid ideas, we waste time and resources.

      • Leon says:

        Better yet, have everybody pedal a stationary bicycle attached to a generator! Free electricity for everyone and a svelt population :-)

        • Steve says:

          Leon… love it! Have the government buy everyone a stationary bike or treadmill (our choice), hook every house to the grid, and mandate (Mrs. O is great at that!) that everyone spend an hour each day pedaling.
          We get healthier, we get power! Everybody happy!

          • Steve says:

            But seriously (if we can take this whole premise of glassifying our roads seriously), why not just mandate that every home and office building in the US has a solar roof?
            Why not put a solar panel on top of every electric pole in the country? … add power to the grid without ripping up every freaking road in the country.
            Why not mandate that every car have a solar roof?
            This roadway idea might not be bad if we put tracks on the roads, and changed all our tires to rail-type wheels.
            Though thinking out of the box is a great exercise that can lead to real strong ideas, this isn’t one of them.

          • Shadow says:

            gilligan’s island all over again.. lola

      • Lewis says:

        As an educated individual you should have the ability to assess your knowledge and skills to improve on ideas that can potentially revolutionize our society. Individuals who automatically shut down ideas just because they see faults in its originality is the reason why our country is in a decline in all aspects of the word. Rather then bashing and criticizing why not help and share solutions.I completely agree with you Kayla, that this idea is great and at its current stage still a prototype. Hopefully with some improvements this prototype will be ready to be fully utilized.

        • John K says:

          Hi Lewis,

          Your’ fervor and passion appear truly impressive! How much do you plan to invest to develop the technology?

          You wrote:

          “Individuals who automatically shut down ideas just because they see faults in its originality is the reason why our country is in a decline in all aspects of the word.”

          Agreed! However, I’m curious who here expressed the desire to ban or stop individuals from pursuing the technology?

          Thanks.

          Have a great dahy!

    • Curious George says:

      Kayla – I have an even better idea: a car engine that burns water, not gasoline.

      • Chelsey says:

        Great idea. Another quickly diminishing resource. I agree with Kayla. Yes this idea is not perfect and there are many flaws but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Also several of Mr. Roy W. Spencer’s points are addressed in this companies FAQ page. Take a look sometime.

        • Lewis Guignard says:

          You know, if that would work, the hate people radicals would immediately be against it.

        • Streetcred says:

          Oh, look ! Another social science undergrad.

          • Don says:

            contributions would be more productive than insults.

          • Mark Luhman says:

            For anybody that thinks this is a good I have some words for you “you can’t fix stupid” now you can ask am I talking about the idea or those whom think it a good idea? Hint the answer is four letters, starts with a b and end with a h, and has a o and t between. For those whom are just being funny I apologize.

            One last closing comment the dirty little secret about solar cell is they are lose lose, To manufacture them take more energy than they will ever produce, so spreading them all over is counter productive. More only means more energy wasted.

          • Kevin Smith says:

            Mark, I like to make things up too. Did you know asphalt is actually unicorn poop? True story. Did you also know that to manufacture asphalt takes more energy that it will ever produce? Weird huh? Here is a little reading, though I agree its easier to just to spout off lies to advance a point. Reading is for suckers anyway. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es3038824

            Oh and BTW “btoh” is not even a word.

      • Eric says:

        …or burns Fabergé eggs and bald eagles?

      • Steve says:

        I hear that really works, too! Now before some of you out there start bashing the idea of propelling our cars with good ‘ole H2O, think about how we can make the idea better. If we all think positively about this great concept, I’m sure we can find a way to get water to burn!

      • Shadow says:

        ion propulsion,, much more efficient,, and adaptable to this concept as well.. air in, power out.. just a thought.. Shadow

    • Roy says:

      Not only is the idea ‘not perfect’ it’s literally retarded. Our state and federal governments have trouble maintaining asphalt and concrete roads in the best of times, and you want them to maintain expensive and sophisticated ‘solar roads’? It is not a step in the right direction. It is a step in the wrong direction.

      If you want to properly harness solar energy you have to do it from space, and then you run into political issues because to transmit that collected energy to the ground would make it capable of being used as a weapon.

      • Massimo PORZIO says:

        Being an electronic engineer with an international patent involving solar cells, I warrant Kayla that Dr. Spencer is absolutely right in considering this idea the stupidest ever though for convert solar energy.
        Who stated this idea is surely a profound ignorant.

        Anyways the true problem of solar energy is the stochastic production, which made all those attempts useless until humankind will invent a reliable energy storage.

        Have a nice day

        Massimo

        • JohnKl says:

          Hi Massimo PORZIO,

          You claimed:

          “Anyways the true problem of solar energy is the stochastic production, which made all those attempts useless until humankind will invent a reliable energy storage.”

          Both the issue of probabilistic energy production and reliability of energy storage face ALL FORMS OF ENERGY PRODUCTION to varying degrees! Hydrocarbon fuel storage faces loss factors from leakage, evaporation, accidents and many, many more. Risk also plagues all forms of energy production. Ask any petroleum engineer facing a dry-well. The efficiency of either energy production and or storage methodologies improves marginally over time as people attempt new techniques by trial and error. The best methods will presumably be rewarded (although not always).

          The problem with solar roadways remains the obvious fact that this supposed solution remains among the worst of even presently known energy acquisition and storage methods. To be blunt, IMHO this system doesn’t represent the best way to solve any problem other than the problem of contractors trying to find a long term stream of government funding to support a costly boondoggle bogged by innumerable problems both in physics, economics and pure logic.

          Have a great day!

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi John K,
            The problem with solar stochastic energy production is that you can’t predict how much energy the sun put on the grid in very small time spans. Since the users need a continued energy supply, the grid owner should have to continuously adjust the production with the conventional power plants (read nuclear, thermal or dams driven power stations) to compensate the changes. But the conventional power stations are not so quick in their production changes. Fixing this implies a very complex grid, such as the Danish one (which is designed for wind-farms which are much better than solar panels under this aspect indeed). Due to this Denmark is the EU country with the higher energy cost for this.
            As said the solar issue is more critical than the wind-farm one, AFAIK currently there is no solution for the solar panels issue, in fact here in Italy the government issued a law which forces the solar panels owners to disconnect their solar generators when the production falls under or exceeds over the 15% of the nominal line voltage. If your read between the lines, this means that the solar panels are just tolerated, but almost not one joules of those solar energies are really used by the grid, because the conventional power stations simply don’t change their energy production at all.
            In few words, the solar energy is just dissipated along the grid conductors.

            Do you get the point?

            Have a nice day.

            Massimo

          • JohnKl says:

            Hi Massimo PORZIO,

            Thank you for the clarification! Much of what you wrote makes some sense. However, you stated your premise stated in the opening line:

            “The problem with solar stochastic energy production is that you can’t predict how much energy the sun put on the grid in very small time spans.”

            In California, where I currently reside, individuals use solar panels for home energy supplementation, on farms to free them from the grid, and by businesses. Large solar collection farms have not as yet taken off to a great extent. Although the Feds do apparently make agreements with foreign solar energy providers (read the Chinese) to build them and the Bureau of Land Management supposedly oversees the projects, which may or may not be in conflict with landowners and residence of any given state. Like you, I greatly question their efficiency. Supposedly homeowners can obtain rebates for solar energy they use and SELL back to the grid. Typically, private solar companies rent/lease solar panels to homeowners who hope in-turn that their newly installed not-so-FREE energy wonders will generate enough savings on their utility bill to off-set their rental fees and any ancillary costs.

            You mentiond:

            “…in Italy the government issued a law which forces the solar panels owners to disconnect their solar generators when the production falls under or exceeds over the 15% of the nominal line voltage.”

            No such law exists AFAIK here in California. Nevertheless, despite the advertised promise of solar panels and the fact that many individual and businesses use them, people do not seem to be jumping in mass at the opportunity to obtain them.

            California does have large wind farms, especially in desert regions (like near Palm Springs) that have a great deal of wind. Despite this wind-mills have their own significant inefficiencies in addition to the obvious fact that they only work when the wind blows! The cost hurdle exists because each wind mill can cost from $600-700K and on a farm sporting several thousand of these it adds up. Much of the time even when the wind blows the rotors face mechanical difficulties and they sit idle while large gales pass uselessly around them. Moereover, it takes time and effort for the few available and trained engineers to service all the rotors lying idle for long periods of time and not generating either energy or financial renumeration.

            The current economic fact remains at least for California and for growing numbers of regions all over the world the energy source with the greatest return on investment, relatively benign environmental cleanness (compared to petroleum and coal), consistent and inexhaustible supply remains natural gas. It likely will for a long time to come.

            Thanks and have a great day!

        • Scott says:

          It is naive to assume solar roads would fix all of our energy problems. There would still be a need for conventional power plants, especially until better storage techniques are found. But that doesn’t mean solar roads can’t be a large part of our energy mix, or that their safety features aren’t valuable.

    • KuhnKat says:

      Kayla, did you see anything in the original article that explains how Potholes would be gotten rid of?!?!?!

      Potholes are also caused by problems with the underlying layers shifting and washing away. To prevent that would require a much higher cost for preparation BEFORE the Solar Roadway is laid. Notice you also need to dig a rather large ditch that is waterproof to lay down the electronics and cabling. Another large expense we do not have for current roads, parking lots, etc. In other words this project is right up there with the Trillion dollar High Speed Rail Gubernator Moonbeam and the other MORONS are still trying to push through here in California.

      Let me give you some hints. There are all kinds of wonderful ideas that are actually pie in the sky. First you have to find out if the technology they are talking about is actually available and TESTED for the purpose proposed. Then you need to find out REAL COSTS for not only building but for maintenance. (hint, wind turbines and solar collectors are failing on maintenance along with initial costs and the fact their production is not reliable) Next you need to determine what Return on Investment that the project will provide. In other words, how much energy will it actually produce as opposed to the rosy estimates that are typically thrown around to attract gullible Politicians and investors.

      FINALLY, if they even HINT at using gubmint grants, subsidies, low interest loans, carbon credits, production credits… they are admitting they really do not have a viable project that can exist on its own and, As Dr. Spencer mentions, will COST WE THE TAXPAER huge amounts just like current renewables.

    • rah says:

      Ah heck Kayla he’s just a rocket scientist. Don’t listen to him. (Sarc).

  11. Guildenstern says:

    The guy who designed it is, actually, an engineer.

    Did you go to their website? It deals with pretty much everything you mention here, and more.

    I’m not saying it will work on a massive scale, but the issues you raise have mostly been addressed.

    • Mark Bofill says:

      Bleh. Mostly video, looks like. Whatever happened to people writing stuff down? People who like to talk more than document, I guess. I don’t want to sift through videos.

      • Mike Mellor says:

        Mark, an entirely valid objection. As long as we have logical, rational people like you on our side, we have nothing to fear.

      • Chelsey says:

        Yes the homepage is mostly videos but look around a little, there’s plenty to read. Also, the videos are pretty informative. Not that you took the time to see, obviously.

        • Streetcred says:

          Ok, so you might be a first year political science student.

          • Holly says:

            You might offer something up besides insults!!! a lot of GOOD ideas begin as poor ones. It might not work in the real world but what an idea!! If it gets minds thinking maybe a useable idea will surface. We need to do SOMETHING!!!

    • rah says:

      Well folks can publish videos and documents all they want. You wanna make me a believer in durability pave a mile of of the heaviest truck traffic interstates with it. Pave another mile of I-65 south of Louisville, KY where the road bed shifts with it. Then drop 20 ton steel coils on it from 25 feet as would happen from an over pass. Pour melted lead or aluminum on it. Have a CAT D-9 bulldozer with standard tracks roll over it and then for good measure a heavy padded soil compactor do the same. Stand up to that and still function then I might take it seriously from the durability standpoint.

  12. SocietalNorm says:

    Could it be done? As I always say, “We can do anything with enough time and money.”
    Is it a good investment of time and money? No – hard to think of much that would be worse at this point in time.
    There is solar-power paint, solar shingles, etc. Investing in improvements to these technologies which could yield much more with much more limited funds would be a far better investment. It’s possible things like these could be economically viable without big government subsidies in our lifetimes if technology keeps moving steadily forward.

  13. David L. Hagen says:

    As an engineer, I agree with your commonsense comments.
    Some PV have demonstrated up to 44.7% efficiency – but not with oil, dirt, snow etc. covering it!

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      They are multi-junction solar cells, not made of silicon.
      Silicon has a black body around 850-900nm while the sunlight is around 599nm, this made a 20…25% efficiency the maximum goal for those cells.
      The problem with multi-junction solar cells is the availability of the semiconductors needed to build them, gallium phosphor indium and arsenide aren’t so available on this planet.

      Multi-junction solar cells are just a good laboratory experiment.

      Have a nice day.

      Massimo

  14. John Moore says:

    I put on my engineer’s hat (always handy) and went to the site. Details? No. Puff and green worship? All over the place.

    I think the whole thing is probably a scam. It looks like a way to pull money out of the pockets of the innumerate and those who don’t understand physics, and, of course, the government who will pay for anything that appeals to the aforementioned idiots.

    Consider the following:

    “Using the hydroelectric power in our area, we can make our Solar Road Panels with very little carbon footprint. But how do we now transport these panels to where they’re needed using as little fuel as possible?”

    Err… power is fungible. The power used from the hydro source will just cause someone else to import power. This is no more green than plugging in to power anywhere else in the country.

    “The Solar Road Panels are large and heavy, but they do produce power when exposed to the sun. …

    Diesel-electric locomotives are the standard today: they have diesel engines to turn generators, which produce electricity to actually propel the train. In essence, it’s an electric train that generates its own electricity with diesel fuel.

    But what if the cargo could produce the electricity instead? We are considering the possibility of making rail cars that would allow us to stack our Solar Road Panels in such a way that they were exposed to the sun: facing outward on both sides and upward on top of the rail cars. No matter which direction the train was traveling, its cargo would be producing electricity.”

    From a numerical standpoint, this is a complete farce. The engines are producing megawatts of power. Coating them in solar will produce a kilowatt or two.

    This sort of thing sets off my scam vibes. Why are they talking about this? To cause greenies to get tinglies up their legs and emit cash.

  15. Frank K. says:

    I’m a believer in free enterprise, so if some idiots want to pursue this with their own PRIVATE money, more power to them. Just don’t use the taxpayer’s money (which we don’t really have anyhow).

    “Some ideas are simply too stupid to save, Kayla.”

    That pretty much describes the whole area of “geo-engineering”…

    • Alick says:

      Pretty much what I was thinking.

    • David Moyer says:

      From my understanding these folks applied several times to government agencies for money. I think they got a little for the initial concept development, but when they applied for money to implement they were turned down because even government employees could tell that there were much better places to invest in solar energy. Many people are convinced that this is a good idea and some of them are investing their own money in it. More power to them. But, like you say, please don’t take any of my money to invest in such a silly idea.

      • Mark Luhman says:

        David I agree you almost say above but do take issue on this line “there are better places to invest on solar energy”. Well if it is solar cell at this point and time it lose lose, maybe growing a forest and then burning might pay but energy out of silicon is lose lose.

  16. KevinK says:

    John Moore wrote (quoting the video);

    “But what if the cargo could produce the electricity instead? We are considering the possibility of making rail cars that would allow us to stack our Solar Road Panels in such a way that they were exposed to the sun: facing outward on both sides and upward on top of the rail cars. No matter which direction the train was traveling, its cargo would be producing electricity.”

    From John directly;

    “From a numerical standpoint, this is a complete farce. The engines are producing megawatts of power. Coating them in solar will produce a kilowatt or two.”

    Not only that, but it is hard to imagine rougher environments for a crystalline material like a PV cell than a roadway or on the side/top of a railroad car. Both have lots of shocks, vibrations, jolts. It’s like paving a road with fine bone china, you probably can’t even get it all installed without breaking 10% of from the get go.

    Oh and the dirt, railroad cars and roads are rarely clean enough to eat off of. Nothing like grim/dust/slop/mud/sand/salt to enhance the performance of an electro-optic system. Heck, I always slather some mud on my camera lens to get nice sharp images.

    And the electrical connections, holy mother of reliability horrors. Nothing goes better with electricity than brine.

    Amtrak(tm) has problems keeping the electrical connections between cars functioning in cold and hot weather to keep the passenger cars comfy and lit. And they own and maintain the cars, general freight cars are a complete dogs breakfast of age/condition/compatibility. Sorry Mister Train Engineer, no ‘lectricty for your train today, the third car back from your cab doesn’t have the right wiring installed.

    On and roads are not a nice flat surface that never changes, up here in the North we get “frost heaves”, yes the ground and the road freeze at different rates and the road surface becomes a mini-roller coaster. And washboarding; when heavy trucks brake the tires/wheels resonate up and down and beat the surface into a washboard shape.

    Still, I suppose it could work if all toll collectors and parking lot attendants are cross trained as electricians…..

    Stupid, silly, unpractical idea through and through. But as my old grandpa said; “a fool and his money are some party”, or something like that, he mumbled a lot…..

    Cheers, Kevin

  17. Simon says:

    What’s really sad is the tone of the article and the replies. While this may not be a goer now, it is pretty exciting and clever that people are looking at all the possibilities as we move forward into the future. It is cleverness like this that will determine how well we cope with whatever the future holds. While it may not be this specific project that will get off the ground (so to speak), I think it rather short sighted to mock it.

    Progress happens when the best of a new idea is built on by future projects. Do you think the Wright brothers came up with all the technology that was in their plane? I think not. It is articles like this Roy that have me doubting whether you really want what is best for the planet?

    • llew Jones says:

      Simon Green idealists like you are not up with the European experience of the “renewables”. All those renewables, except hydro produced electricity, needs back up power generation from fossil or nuclear fueled power stations.

      Germany which got the jitters over the recent Japanese nuclear experience of Fukushima has already closed down 8 of its 17 nuclear power plants and aims to close the rest by 2022. So what did it substitute? Wind? No. Solar? No.

      Far too inefficient and practically useless in a large modern industrialised economy.

      What did it turn to? Lignite coal. Generally regarded as the dirtiest type of coal.

      Other European nations such as Spain, in the face of the practical limitations of wind and solar is reducing funding to the renewable sector.

      Here in Australia the present generally sceptical of dangerous global warming government is removing funding from the renewable sector on the grounds of efficiency and the need to use fossil fuel generated power as back up.

      Thermal Solar in Australia is probably most effective in small outback communities not connected to the grid as a replacement for diesel generated power.

      • Simon says:

        “Here in Australia the present generally sceptical of dangerous global warming government is removing funding from the renewable sector on the grounds of efficiency and the need to use fossil fuel generated power as back up.”

        That would be the Australia that’s just had it’s hottest year on record? It is going to be so interesting watching watching your PM squirm over this issue. If this El Nino kicks in Australia will be in the firing line and Mr Abbott is going to have to justify his cuts.

        Anyway where do you get off calling me a “Green Idealist?” That’s pretty arrogant. You don’t even know me. I happen to think the big hope for the planet is nuclear.

        • Streetcred says:

          Hottest year on record since when ? 1936 was much hotter. Student union organiser? Too easily sucked in by the headlines from organisations with vested interests.

          • Simon says:

            I call BS on this. Please provide data that says Australia’s hottest year was 1936… and not from a site that says man didn’t land on the moon, or that the Obama is really an eskimo. Me thinks you are the one being sucked in.

          • Mark Luhman says:

            I cannot say about Australia but here is a link for the US on number of 100 plus days. The so call records of recent time have to do with the highest mean temperature which to me may have more to do with UHI tan anything else, as far as global warm that were is the real debate how much is CO2 how much else is affecting the night time temperatures. As far a a global temperature the true picture is satellite data since it is world wide but it time period is to short to tell us much. Don’t rely on thermometers data since the human race only occupies about 5% of the planets surface and that where we have most of our thermometers. If you question my 5% number yes I did wing it but 78% is water that leaves 23% Siberia is huge and mostly unoccupied next is Canada mot of the population is within 100 miles of the US, throw in deserts mountains and Antarctica and you know there is is not a lot left.

        • Shadow says:

          ouch,, Nuc is bad idea,,
          fusion is much better, and safer,, and causes no contamination or debris to get rid of.. air in, power out.. simple, eco safe, and free.. and now, easy to build into smaller units due to the materials we have in todays society.. Shadow
          just a though, but please, Nuc is bad,, but so are corporations that control them, they have agendas, why not make it free to the people in the first place..

      • John K says:

        Hi Ilew Jones,

        Of the three general varieties of coal lignite, bituminous and anthracite. Lignite (light brown in color) is the least energy dense.

        Have a great day!

        • John K says:

          Hi Ilew Jones,

          Please accept my correction. The post should read:

          “Of the three general varieties of coal (lignite, bituminous and anthracite), lignite (light brown in color) is the least energy dense.

          Have a great day!

    • Joe Wooten says:

      I think it rather short sighted to mock it

      It’s never short sighted to mock a really stupid idea. You must be another Sociology and gender studies major.

  18. KevinK says:

    Simon;

    “it is pretty exciting and clever that people are looking at all the possibilities as we move forward into the future.”

    Well, once you create an imaginary problem (i.e. AGW) I guess you have free rein to solve it creatively. However, please refrain from assaulting my wallet to “create” the problem, also please refrain from assaulting my wallet a second time to “solve” said imaginary problem.

    Creativity is great, it’s what brought us the electric light bulb. And what figured out how to refine raw liquid “fossil” fuels that we can easily pour into the fuel tank of our cars. By all means RISK your own money on better ways to light our homes and provide cost effective transportation, I assure you once you have found a “better mousetrap” everybody will “beat a path” to your door. Just stay the heck away from my wallet.

    It worked for Edison and Rockefeller, you should try it as well.

    Cheers, Kevin.

    • Simon says:

      It’s not my money they are using and I as far as I am aware, no one has asked you to contribute either (to this idea).

      Necessity is the mother of invention. Sooner or later fossil fuels will either run out, or be left in the ground. Better we start examining the options before that happens.

      And there is nothing imaginary about AGW. The only questions now are … how much higher will temps go…. and how much damage will be caused on the way?

      • Streetcred says:

        C’mon, Simon … put your money where your mouth is and slip in a couple of G’s. Nah, thought not … you are right in one thing though, AGW is real … just question of how much propaganda you can absorb before you radiant scepticism.

      • Mark Luhman says:

        Simon, he was not referring to this idea, are you going to tell me AGW has not mine my wallet already, Maybe you don’t fill up at the gas pump but every time I do I have to think at least half is due to the artificial monopoly the greenies have set up for the oil companies, and AGW is a big part of that.

      • jschlue2 says:

        How much higher temps will go? You can still say that after one of the longest, coldest, snowiest winters on record in the US? The winter that brought us the “polar Vortex”? Are you kidding?

  19. Bart says:

    It’s dumb, but not as dumb as the project a friend linked me to a couple of years ago. The idea there was that the roads would be made of piezoelectric materials which would generate electricity as the cars drove over and deformed them.

    My friend (not an engineer, obviously) thought this was “free” electricity generated by the weight of the cars. I don’t think he ever understood when I explained rolling friction, and where the energy would actually be coming from.

  20. Mac says:

    I’m a little disappointed in this article. First off, photo-voltaic cells can be beyond 15% efficiency, reaching up to 44% as someone previously pointed out. Even so, 15% efficiency is enough to pay off the initial costs. I would know, I have solar-panels on my roof and they’ve already payed themselves off (both in the complete absence of an electrical bill and in the money I get for selling energy back to the city).

    The second point makes it seem like you only skimmed through, or glanced, at the information available on their website. The hexagonal cells can withstand 250,000 pounds of weight over them and have surpassed all traction requirements as can be read on the website itself: “We sent samples of textured glass to a university civil engineering lab for traction testing. We started off being able to stop a car going 40 mph on a wet surface in the required distance. We designed a more and more aggressive surface pattern until we got a call form the lab one day: we’d torn the boot off of the British Pendulum Testing apparatus! We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance.” So that’s definitely an unfair statement to make.

    The third point is completely valid and I would love to see the engineers who work on this address it. Current asphalt roadways however need upkeep. To say that requiring cleanings is prohibitive to the idea isn’t a legitimate statement. Or at least not in my opinion.

    The fourth point is also completely valid. But don’t forget, unlike current asphalt roads, these will actually produce energy from sunlight, a free source of energy. Even if they don’t produce “enough” in your own personal opinion, they produce enough to pay for themselves over a long enough period of time irregardless of what you think. Solar-cells have long life-times, upwards of 20 years (at least the ones on my roof do, which aren’t as advanced as these) and even with 15% efficiency the long-term costs completely out-set the initial costs and eventually create a profit. Don’t forget also how many jobs this will create and how many jobs it can sustain over the decades. The manufacturing industry, too, will get a nice kick-start.

    To add on to my reaction to your 4th point, you seem to be missing one of the biggest parts of this… it’s starting off privately. People can replace their driveways, personal walk-ways, business areas, etc. with these and see for themselves if it is worth it. If enough people think it’s a good idea, and as it becomes more practical, they will be willing to pay tax-payer money to replace their roads and side-walks. This is a far more realistic path than going straight to the public arena and replacing all high-ways and roads immediately.

    As for the melted snow… the hexagonal solar panels include heating elements… unless that’s what you’re referring too?

    I’m glad people are pointing out possible flaws and not jumping right on this. That’s healthy. But I think you’ve jumped a little too quickly without doing enough research of your own.

    • Mac says:

      Note: In the picture you provided showing snow, you should have also included the caption. “Snow removal test (one heater off, one heater on)”.

      They have an entire drive-way made of their prototype II’s. The keyword in that: “prototype”. To think that what you see is what will replace the highways is premature at best. You should not attack the idea immediately.

      Lots of R&D is still left to be done. I think it would be far more legitimate of you to include positive ideas that would help, at the very least.

    • Jeannie says:

      Irregardless is not a word. You had me reading until I saw that word.

      • GramarNazi says:

        Irregardless is in the Oxford dictionary and has been since the early 20th century.

        Its considered non-standard because of the two negative elements ir- and -less. Irregardless may be used where emphasis on regardless is deemed necessary.

        Just because its non-standard it does not mean that its not a word.

        • Mac says:

          Thank you.

        • Doctor Word says:

          Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn’t mean that literate persons should use it. Especially as in recent years many dictionary editors have caved to linguistic barbarians and the academic political correctness to attempt the cardinal liberal virtues of Inclusivity and Non-Judgmentalness.

          Communicating with one another is treacherous enough without resorting to non-standard English. :-D

          • Mac says:

            I think you’re focusing on my use of a single word a little too much… does it really matter? No. Not really.

      • Mac says:

        Anyone who focus’s on how something is said, and not the content of what is said, generally didn’t have a legitimate response in the first place.

        I suggest you read GrammarNazi’s post to make things clear.

    • Joe Wooten says:

      I have solar-panels on my roof and they’ve already payed themselves off

      I think you need to do your math again. I bet enough panels to supply your home on a daily basis would cost you well north of $20k. Also, how do these panels keep you from buying power from the local utility at night and on thos cloudy days when the panels don’t put out full power?

      How much did the government subsidize the cost of buying and installing you PV panels. If you include that subsidy, part of which came out of MY pocket, then your payback is much longer.

      • Mac says:

        No subsidies or tax-payer money was used. The math plays out perfectly for me. I would know… it’s my money and my checking accounts.

        I also own a Volt. It is connected to the solar panels. I haven’t had to pay for gas in months. The fact that it’s a DC power-up (Cars, generally, need a DC input) makes it even more efficient (as opposed to house power, which means going from DC to AC. Which on average creates a 10% power loss).

        Look. I agree that the technology can improve; drastically. I also understand why people are so hesitant to believe that Solar Energy can be practical. However, the facts are… that it IS practical. My PV Solar Panels will have a long, long life-time and recent studies have shown that they will probably last well beyond 20 years (Chianese, D., Realini, A., Cereghetti, N., Rezzonico, S., Bura, E., Friesen, G. , 2003. Analysis of Weather c-Si PV Modules. LEEE-TISO, University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland, Manno). However… it only takes about 10 to pay off in America… especially if Government Subsidies are used. Massachusetts, specifically Boston, provides the best Subsidies for Solar Panels on roofing. They are doing something right, in my opinion.

        In Germany, with electricity prices of 0.25 euro/KWh and Insolation of 900 KWh/KW, one KWp will save 225 euro per year and with installation cost of 1700 euro/KWp means that the system will pay back in less than 7 years.

        I can’t believe anyone would simply deny Solar Energy, and with that, Solar Roadways. Especially in the way Roy Spencer has. It’s a fantastic technology with far more pros than cons; especially relative to non-renewable energy sources like Fossil Fuels.

        I’m also an Electrical Engineer… I have at least *some* expertise in the subject -_-

        • Shadow says:

          I agree,,
          solar is good idea,, but, air through a vortex is better,, don’t need allot of air flow,, and the electrical buildup is constant not intermittent.. the problem is with storage, not the creation of the electrical field..
          I like the lighting aspects of this idea, not for roads obviously, but for driveways and parks projects and such.. and the solar energy created would take away the monopoly of the big corporations,, and lower our costs all around,, they would have to start capitulating to our needs not their own pockets,, and this is good for all of us.. I think,, Shadow

      • donna says:

        paid is not spelled payed!

  21. Mike Mellor says:

    If I was a venture capitalist I would definitely put money into this. The rock stars of the AGW movement will all want their driveways done like this at half a million dollars a pop. You could bully and blackmail celebrities like Oprah to have it done or their credibility vanishes.

    As far as solar highways go, nobody could possibly have a problem with the basic concept; it’s just the proposed technology that’s sort of steampunk and naturally the small matter of cost. In eighty years time there will be articles in Popular Mechanics titled “Visionary foresaw solar roadways” and they will chuckle over the antique inadequate hardware that was supposed to deliver the solution.

  22. MIlton Hathaway says:

    Got a chuckle out of one item from the FAQ. Maybe the NSA is a funding partner? If you are considering stealing the road, you best do it at night:

    These panels must be valuable. What’s to keep people from stealing them for home use?

    Each panel has its own microprocessor, which communicates wirelessly with the surrounding panels. They monitor each other for malfunctions or problems. Even if someone were able to pull a panel out of the road and load it on a truck, the stolen panel would continue communicating with all of the other panels in the road. The road would know exactly where it was and how fast it was moving, making the criminal a sitting duck for law enforcement.

    People will surely try however, and we’ll probably be treated to several “World’s Dumbest Criminal” episodes before the thieves finally decide it’s not worth it!

    • Anon says:

      And I’m sure that some interprising criminals won’t just disable the tracker. There are gonna be millions or billions of the things, it would be nearly impossible for the schematics not to become easy enough to find, allowing anyone who wants to to identify what they’d need to do to disable the tracker.

  23. papijo says:

    I am surprised that nobody has rised the most important question: “Is this pavement at least suitable as a road lining ?” The answer is … “NO”. The lining of a road needs at least to be usable by modern cars driving at normal speed.

    The surface of a modern road must be as smooth possible, as provided by a bituminous surface. The surface level discontinuities at the interface between rigid blocks are not adapted to our modern vehicles (if you ever travel in Europe, you will find portions of roads paved with stones or bricks: it is impossible because of noise, vibrations and disconfort, to exceed a speed of about 20 km/h on them). Tests had been made in the 70′s to replace the bituminous lining by concrete blocks (about 3 m x 3 m) on some motorways, they were quicly abandoned because of the same problem at speeds beyond say 80 to 100 km/h.

    • rob cornick says:

      to quote MAC from earlier in the feed”(it) seems like you only skimmed through, or glanced, at the information available on their website. The hexagonal cells can withstand 250,000 pounds of weight over them and have surpassed all traction requirements as can be read on the website itself: “We sent samples of textured glass to a university civil engineering lab for traction testing. We started off being able to stop a car going 40 mph on a wet surface in the required distance. We designed a more and more aggressive surface pattern until we got a call form the lab one day: we’d torn the boot off of the British Pendulum Testing apparatus! We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance.” So that’s definitely an unfair statement to make.

      • Russ says:

        Its interesting how objections fly right over the head of those without enough engineering knowledge. They just keep posting /faq and /numbers over and over again thinking that they somehow contain the answers.

        Not only did the objection have absolutely nothing to do with traction or loading, but the answer on the faq has no information about what tests were done, what the test results were, which university did the testing, or who at the university did the testing.

        • Mac says:

          The test is LITERALLY described as a car breaking and how many feet it took for the car to come to a complete stop…

          • Griffing says:

            papijo’s post LITERALLY had nothing to do with how many feet it takes to stop a car on this surface. Try driving on a cobblestone street at 75 miles an hour, maybe you will get the point of the post then.

        • Shadow says:

          if I may interject..
          he is describing the drivability of the surface,, the frequencies not the surface friction itself,, the freq in the road surface with only withstand certain areas before it becomes improbable to drive upon..
          certain materials have different frequencies at certain speeds,, does the materials used in these blocks take that into account?? possible.. as I high speed risk taking driver myself,, every car I have ever driven, takes corners on roads differently due to this frequency aspect.. you have to be able to compensate for this when you drive,, was that aspect tested also..
          I believe that is what he is referring to,, not the road surface friction, but the bump in the road at certain speeds.. Shadow

  24. PeterinMD says:

    One word “Solyndra”

  25. Massimo PORZIO says:

    @Mac May 27, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    “First off, photo-voltaic cells can be beyond 15% efficiency, reaching up to 44% as someone previously pointed out. Even so, 15% efficiency is enough to pay off the
    initial costs.”
    1) Silicon based solar panel can’t exceed 20…25% (not sure the what the real value) because of the limit of the superimposition of the sunlight black body (599nm) and the silicon (850…900nm); this is a theoretical efficiency and can’t be reached indeed
    2) 44% efficiency is related to multi-junction solar cells, they are not made of silicon; as already said above in another post, the problem with multi-junction solar cells is the availability of the semiconductors needed to build them, gallium phosphor and indium aren’t so available on Earth; multi-junction solar cells are just a good laboratory experiment.
    3)The problem with solar panels is not the place where to put them, but it is accumulate the energy to compensate the stochastic production and buffering the grid when they reduce the production because of a cloud for example;
    since the other reliable energy production systems can’t handle so rapid energy changes, it implies that the grid owner must provide always the full energy required by the users, even when the sun shines brightly on the panels.

    To made the solar panels a real alternative energy, we need to design reliable accumulators. Today solar panels are just useful for stand alone off-grid applications.

    Have a nice day.

    Massimo

    • Mac says:

      But will you respond to this part of my statement: “Even so, 15% efficiency is enough to pay off the initial costs.”? I understand that 44% is related to multi-junction solar cells but I was speaking generally of ‘all’ possible PV’s. (Current best si-PV’s are at ~19%).

      The mathematics done to calculate the possible energy obtained from the solar roadways project was done using worst-case scenarios with sun-light coming from a distance far away from the equator (e.g. Idaho, or Canada). Even with those numbers, and an added extra 10% energy loss from loss of sunlight through the hexagonal glass panels, the Solar Roadway System will still pay for itself well within the life time of the solar panels themselves. I’m not saying that it couldn’t be made more efficient or more practical; of course it could, but even at it’s current production it would be still worth it. Maybe it’s not worth it in your opinion but the mathematics has convinced me that it is worth it.

      To be even more fair to the creators they are not starting it off by using the current prototypes (keyword right there: prototypes) or by replacing entire highways using tax-payer money. They are beginning privately and with money donated to them (1.7 million donated as of today). By the time it gets popular enough and has enough funding and support to become actual Solar Roadways (if it ever even gets to that point) the technology will indeed have improved by leaps and bounds (one would hope).

      • Steve says:

        Mac, you may be an ‘electrical engineer’, but I can’t believe that you can continue to spout the balderdash that “the Solar Roadway System will pay for itself within the life of the panels themselves”.
        We have no way of knowing what this ‘project’ would cost, in current or future dollars… since it would take several decades to get this system in place… so how can that statement possibly be true?
        Simply put, this idea sounds like a problem-solver… but it’s ridiculous in so many ways.
        You don’t know the cost, can’t really project the amount of electricity produced, the materials for producing higher-gain pv cells are too scarce to produce them on this scale, what happens when the substrate cracks, what happens when there’s an accident that rips up hundreds of these plates?… how can efficiency be maintained when these glass-ways will be covered by grime? What about the ‘green-ness’ of producing so many of these panels? … isn’t there criticism about how they’re manufactured?
        What this seems like to me is an “any pie-in-the-sky idea at any cost is better than fossil fuels” scam.
        Try it in focused trials for walkways, and play out all the unknowns.
        But refrain from issuing the halcyon call for nirvana under our tires for now.

        • Mac says:

          The statement is an extrapolation of the fact that current PV-Cells and Solar Panels literally pay themselves on in only a 1/10th of their life time… how hard is it to extrapolate that math to the Solar Roadway System? Especially considering the fact they will be made out of those same PV-Cells, albeit even better?

          It’s not an unfair assessment to make. You’re being disingenuous by calling it ‘balderdash’ without also having done the mathematics as well. The people who have done the math for Solar Roadways claims it will be able to pay itself off and I completely believe them considering they know far more about the costs behind the project. Also, the fact current solar panels pay for themselves, should be convincing enough alone.

          “Try it in focused trials for walkways, and play out all the unknowns.” That is literally the whole point of the Solar Roadways Indiegogo Funding project.

          I still don’t understand why people are bashing it… without realizing that it is 1.) Still in Prototype Stage and 2.) Starting off privately.

          However, I still believe it can, and will, pay for itself throughout its lifetime. It’s really not that hard to believe.

  26. James Strom says:

    The least that should be done is to keep track of the names of people promoting such unworkable technologies, if we can’t get a sensible engineering review in advance. Spain and Germany poured billions of Euros into green energy projects which were supposed to both create millions of jobs and reduce the cost of energy. They are both backing away because there was net job loss and negligible if not negative effect on the cost of energy.

    I get it that it’s possible to sell a bad idea to a gullible public and politicians before a realistic assessment has been conducted, and probably always will be, but it would be good to have a repository of the names of people who have got such projects so spectacularly wrong in the past.

    • Ivan says:

      I think it is too early to say whether the effect of substituting nuclear power with renewable is positive or negative.
      And please – this jobs lost idea is getting absurd. As one guy mentioned – if we need jobs we can get 1/2 of the people to dig holes and 1/2 to fill them.
      In my opinion renewable power is the future, no matter if we like it or not. It may be expensive right now, but at least we do not risk another Chernobyl or Fukushima. (please do not start me with how nuclear power is super safe and disasters are HIGHLY unlikely to happen)

      • Joe Wooten says:

        Ivan, renewables are NOT ready for prime time.

        Gas/oil/coal/nuclear/hydro are the only choices for economical, safe power at this time. I don’t have a problem doing research, but I have a real problem with magical thinking that with enough taxpayer subsidy we can make “green” electricity work.

        • Shadow says:

          not true,,
          Ion propulsion and fusion are safe and free energy,, as well as vortex air units on each building or home..
          the problem is not with the ability to generate the energy needed,, it is with the control of that energy to our citizens.. as I have said before in this article.. the solar idea is great,, not for our roads,, obviously, but there are other ways to create electricity that have no political control factor and is relatively cheep to make ourselves..
          all the other energy generating ideas only are good for one thing,, making tax money for those in power of them.. not the ‘people’ who really need it,, it is a control factor we do not need any longer.. the technology is available now, we should be allowed to use it.. Shadow

  27. Gary says:

    A couple of decades ago they embedded small reflectors in the interstate pavement in my snowbelt state to show drivers the lane boundaries. By the next year 95% of these passive devices had been gouged out by the traffic and snowplows. There is no way that these new devices would stay implanted or the cabling stay intact. That they would remain functioning is lunacy.

    • James Strom says:

      Yeah, but Gary, those devices were great–a tremendous aid for lane visibility. All that was needed was a weekly schedule to send maintenance crews to replace lost reflectors. And that’s all that would be needed for embedded solar cells in highways. Of course if you calculate the energy cost of all that maintenance the savings may turn out to be illusory.

      • socalDriver says:

        “All that was needed was a weekly schedule to send maintenance crews to replace lost reflectors. And that’s all that would be needed for embedded solar cells in highways. ”

        If that’s all we need is a weekly schedule, then why are roadways nationwide, and particularly in CA, in such dire state of disrepair? There are hundreds of thousands of miles of streets and roads just in CA which have not seen a repaving in many decades, despite the fact the weather is hardly a hindrance to road work most of the year. Fat chance the maintenance will be any better in states with true seasons.

  28. Ivan says:

    Hello guys,

    I do not get why are you talking about % efficiency. I mean – who the fuck cares? Don’t we all care if those roads can pay for themselves – or at least be cheaper than conventional (asphalt) roads?

    You’re all talking about % and money. I do not get the % part, but the money thingy is interesting to me – are those roads cheaper than conventional roads or not? Thats the only thing that got my interest. Can anybody respond ?

    Cheers,
    Ivan

    • Frank K. says:

      “…are those roads cheaper than conventional roads or not?”

      No. :-)

      BTW – the frost heaves we get in our roads here in New England would make mincemeat out these photovoltaic cells…

      • Ivan says:

        Well if they are not cheaper, in today’s economic situation its pointless to discuss em..

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          No, they will be always no cheaper than the asphalt, and more:
          does anybody asked himself what’s the friction of that pavement?
          The main goal of the roads pavement is to have a good friction against the wheels rubber to allow to stop the car in case of need (this characteristic of the asphalt is also called adherence).
          I don’t know which “wonderful” material they used to achieve a good adherence and at the same time a good light transmittance.
          I repeat, as Dr. Spencer highlighted, this is not great idea.

          Have a nice day.

          Massimo

          • navydiver says:

            Massimo as @MAC pointed out earlier it seems like you only skimmed through, or glanced, at the information available on their website. The hexagonal cells can withstand 250,000 pounds of weight over them and have surpassed all traction requirements as can be read on the website itself: “We sent samples of textured glass to a university civil engineering lab for traction testing. We started off being able to stop a car going 40 mph on a wet surface in the required distance. We designed a more and more aggressive surface pattern until we got a call form the lab one day: we’d torn the boot off of the British Pendulum Testing apparatus! We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance.” So that’s definitely an unfair statement to make.

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            @navydiver
            “We backed off a little and ended up with a texture that can stop a vehicle going 80 mph in the required distance.”

            Could you tell me where I can see the official document which states this?
            What is the university which lab did the test?

            I’m really impressed of this statement about a glass surface, and I’m really interested to going in deep into this exceptional achievement.
            I say that without sarcasm, just because it is a long time that road engineers are dealing with a very reliable surface which resist against adverse weather and glass should be very reliable about that issue.

            Have a nice day.

            Massimo

          • Bart says:

            Moreover, how is a rough surface needed for stopping going to manage not to seriously degrade the efficiency of power production?

    • Joe Wooten says:

      It’s obvious you are not an engineer.

      • Mac says:

        One does not need to be an engineer to have a legitimate opinion on something related to engineering… that way of thinking only alienates your own views. An engineers opinion on it is simply to be understood to be backed with more knowledge and thus taken more respectfully or seriously, but an engineer can still be wrong.

        I wish you would have responded in a reasonable way, instead of being dismissive.

  29. KuhnKat says:

    I am wondering if those cells will actually CONSUME power to melt the snow and ice?!?!?!?!?!

  30. Kevin says:

    I would be more exicited if someone came up with a better material to pave roads then current asphalt. Something that can survive cold winters here in Michigan, so we don’t only have two seasons: winter and construction.

    • Shadow says:

      resin/rosin graphite materials,, manufactured with ground up old tires..
      would that be the material you are looking for,, we make it here in Oregon.. use it for parks, porches and driveways.. really good in the snow, and quite versatile,, not sure if it would work as a looking glass though.. although I do think they make a clear too.. need to check up on that,, will get back to ya.. Shadow

  31. mark says:

    I see a lot of people on here saying that it is the dumbest idea that they have heard of, that it’s impractical, unfeasible and just plain ridiculous. I don’t see a lot of people offering up any better ideas to fix the problem of our current info-structure which is deteriorating at such a rapid rate we can’t even fathom. At least these people are trying to fix the problem and not being so negative. What we have done for the past 60 years has proven not to work and to continue to do so would be asinine! It is going to take a lot more than just throwing money at the problem to resolve the situation. Besides, I don’t like giving my hard earned tax dollars to some corporate a**hole who is thriving off of the current situation we are in. Just my opinion.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Mark:
      what do you mean with:
      “I don’t see a lot of people offering up any better ideas to fix the problem of our current info-structure which is deteriorating at such a rapid rate we can’t even fathom.”
      Sorry, I’m Italian and probably I miss your point because I misunderstand what you mean.
      Is your “info-structure” a typo and should it be read “infra-structure”?

      Have a nice day.

      Massimo

    • Mark Bofill says:

      I hear this argument alot in support of Obamacare. “Well, do you have a better idea? At least Obama’s trying to fix it.”

      Since when was screwing up something that’s partially broken but you don’t know how to fix the default correct course of action? Never, in my book.

      • Frank K. says:

        “Obama’s trying to fix it.”

        Ehh?? That one is NEWS to me. He’s screwed it up so much it will take a generation to repair. Sort of like replacing our current asphalt roads with more affordable “mud and stone”…

        As for the “info-structure” – what is needed are better construction materials which have the same desirable features as asphalt (perhaps composites?) but are more rugged, especially through seasonal temperature cycles and cyclic loading from heavy vehicles. And, I suppose, once we get the Jetsons-style wheel-less transportation (aka flying cars), it will all be a moot point.

        • Shadow says:

          ‘He’s screwed it up’,,
          are you really believing what you are saying.. do you really think our president instituted this proposal all by himself, or even likes it completely.. he doesn’t you know,,
          but he and his cabinet had to make consolations to his constituents to even make what we got good enough to help our lower income people,, you should try being poor,, I owe $647k to hospitals and child care,, I will never be free.. but I have ideas that help others,,
          I was happy to accept that little bit of help.. I got my Pel grant and am attending ITT Tech Inst, and can now get my teeth fixed, but I will never have half the income you have,, even though at one time, I was rich.. this idea is good,, but could be better,, and so could the Obama care program,, allot better..
          I would like to take you back a few years,, there was a gentleman who created a water boiling energy unit for our vehicles,, he was shot somehow, and his patent got bought out by some big oil company,, and then we never heard about it again.. did it work, we will never know,, they scraped it, and lost the blueprints.. uhm.. and you say ‘he’ screwed it up.. Shadow

  32. Dan says:

    Dr Spencer,

    The reason they are able to clear the tile despite your very reasonable skepticism is pretty simple, and clearly articulated in the FAQ. The tile provides 36W DC when facing the sun under optimal conditions. They were applying 72W to the heating elements by using an external power source. They justify this by claiming that they are only utilizing 69% of the surface area of the tile and when they increase it to 100% they could get it up to 52W. In other words, they cheated, admitted to cheating, and hoped their “donors” would be too stupid to notice (and many people are).

    Figure that they only get peak power for 4 hours (at best) in a northern state in the winter (possibly with overcast), and we see that it would be 208WH per day generated and 1728WH consumed, so each tile will consume 1500WH/day… But don’t worry, they’ll make up for that deficit with volume.

    • Mark Luhman says:

      Yes it would be like spend two dollars to earn one, in that average person some how scaling it up will make it work. In mine and you world all that does is make the losses bigger.

    • Mac says:

      You do realize the heating elements would not be on for long… only until the snow is melted…?

      • jschlue2 says:

        Yeah, especially during a winter storm with heavy snowfall, blowing and drifting, and near 0F temperatures. NOT!

  33. Dejan says:

    Hi if all this is 80 % true what i see. I riely houpe that this day will come.

  34. Bonnie says:

    While I like the idea of these cells I am pretty sure that they are not what they are cracked up to be. And no, I am not a scientist or engineer – I am just your average ordinary person on the street.

    I would love to see how those tiles would fare a Newfoundland winter. With how much snow can get dumped in a short amount of time I think it would be pretty safe to say that these tiles would never stand up to even a mild winter here. There would still be the need to plow the streets, and with the amount of damage plows do to the existing road surface? Yeah, not really a feasible solution. Not to mention the nasty storms we get here that erode large amounts of soil from under some of our roads – we’re still repairing the damage left by Igor in some of our smaller communities that had entire roads washed out, and some of these roads had even seen major work done on them to stop this sort of thing from happening!

    As for direct sunlight in this province? Most of us who live here would agree that we do not have the optimal amount of sun for these tiles to actually work. Rain, drizzle, and fog are the norm for here, with really very few clear sunny days.

    If people want to buy these up for their personal use, go for it. But I think DOTs across the globe would be wise to steer clear because it will only cost more money than the current road repairs and upkeep do.

  35. Chris says:

    Yes, Yes.

    This is such a good idea. The USA can borrow money from China, so that it can pay China to produce them. Maybe they would even install them for you.

    Its green, so it must be good, and best of all – its all free!

  36. Chris says:

    But what makes this really funny is that it is endorsed by

    U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

  37. Chris says:

    The more you read, the funnier it gets.

    “With this award, a prototype parking lot will be built and then tested under all weather and sunlight conditions”

    So the idea is to use a parking lot, which are generally covered in cars during sunlight hours, and even if you only cover the road and not the actual parking space, much of the area will be shaded by the cars.

    Of course it will be empty at night.

    Seriously, if the US public take this seriously, then the days of the US being a world power are well on the way to being over.

  38. Kick Off says:

    You sound full of shit. your sceptism is borderline jealousy or fooolish. Conventional thinking is always right, the internet is a good example of that. to say that is doesnt work based on your conventional wisdom is what makes me sceptical of what you are saying.

    If we were to leave it up to you we would never be rid of oil from our economy. I understand there being naysayers to everthing but your over qualified conventional and dated thinking should not be paid too much attention. You assume they are not qualified to do the project and it must be a scam because your conventional thinking cannot believe that someone can think out of the box and come up with something new.

    with the advances in technology particularly over the last 5 to 10 years convinces me that its not soo impossible, the whole point of the crowdfunding is to bring more people to the project and make it a reality, nothing wrong with that, even after they hire experts and turns out that the idea doesnt work, it wouldnt matter, We would have learned a lot from it. and they can publish their findings. absolutely nothing wrong with that. and I think its a good democratic exercise that they have public support to try and see if their solution would work, I am absolutely delighted that this project has got funding. And I am sticking $1000 towards the project and I do hope I can come and glee on this site in a years time!!!!!

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Oh my Giod!

      I’m glad to know that some insane people like you exist, at least I understand why they started that silly enterprise.

      Anyways I hope you are not one of those who complain about the things that go wrong, because that’s due to your very same way of approach the scientific matter.

      Good luck and have a nice day.

      Massimo

      • Massimo PORZIO says:

        Was “God” of course :)

      • Frank K. says:

        Heh! I think Mr. “Kick Off” should sell all of his/her assets and invest immediately in this technology. Don’t delay! It’s opportunity of a life time – cuz today, anything’s possible (especially if it’s advertized on the internet)!

    • Joe Wooten says:

      A fool and his money are soon parted…..

    • Chris says:

      I would be the first to congratulate you on your foresight and vision if it succeeds. And be quite happy to run my household on this new cheap energy source as well, knowing full well you would be pocketing the dividends from my electricity costs. You of course would then be the new evil corporate on the block – but that doesn’t trouble me either.

      But if it fails will you come and tell me how foolish you were, and how easily you were conned and parted from your money?

      If you take the most expensive way of generating electricity, that only works for a few hours a day at best, then combine it with the worst possible implementation of that technology, I just don’t see it getting any further than paying the executives salaries.

  39. Jon says:

    Well, I’m not an engineer, but I am a skeptic, so I went off in search of articles like this as soon as I saw the video.

    However, I can’t help but notice that nearly all of the objections seem to focus solely on the panels’ potential use on major roadways. I get that that’s the name of the project, but that’s because they’re shooting for the moon with the vision behind it (which is not stupid in itself – just very ambitious). What is the objection to the more immediate and practical suggestion that they be used in recreation grounds, squares and so on? What about cycle lanes?

    Some people seem to be scoffing at the idea of using them in carparks because parked cars will cover the panels. Last time I checked, the UK had a denser population than the US, and we get plenty of half-empty carparks around here.

    • Russ says:

      Because if you were using them in any of those situations, it’d make more sense to put the panels above the surface rather than in the surface. They wouldn’t be shaded as much by cars/buildings, their glass coating would not only be much cheaper, but would also let through more light, they could be installed at an optimum angle, even made to track the sun, would provide shade for the areas, etc. In fact, this is already done. Its a solved problem, we can all go home, yay.

    • Chris says:

      Exactly Russ. The fact that are more likely to be purchased and installed in private homes, given significant subsidies but rarely used in large ‘farms’ also says something rather obvious about the technology.

  40. Tracy says:

    I am a mechanical engineer at General Motors. I saw this video and passed it around the office. All the engineers in my group (100%) think solar roadways could be a good idea.

    I would like to give you some feedback to your questions, Dr. Spencer:

    1. You made the statement that solar cells are only 15% efficient. That is wrong. The best solar cells are at 44.7% efficiency with current mass-produced cells coming in between 30-40%. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cell#Efficiency

    2. Your second point is quite valid. Why make roads out of glass when you can put them in other places? The increased cost from the strong glass could make the cells prohibitively expensive. Every engineering job comes with compromise. Cost is often a factor with a heavy influence in that compromise.

    3. Keeping the roads clean does not seem like a difficult engineering task to solve, which they already have, partially. You will notice their prototype had a raised (bumpy) contact surface, allowing water and dirt to flow around the raised areas. The lowered areas could be coated with self-cleaning lubricant. Not an impossible problem to solve.

    4. Your fourth point (and a good one) is again, in my opinion, the deciding factor. Cost could be prohibitively expensive.

    5. Because the surface of the cell absorbs more light than a surface covered by snow, the cell will always be warmer. There will be, however, a point when the rate at which snow falls is greater than the rate at which it can be melted. To find this break point, testing would need to be done to determine how “snowy” a climate would be to make the melting function unusable.

    My general feeling is that this project will be explored (and it is worth exploring) and be discarded as too expensive. However, this kind of exploration is valuable to technological progress because it helps us break the barriers in our minds about what is possible. This kind of exploration is the heart of innovation. Were human flight and landing a man on the moon considered ridiculous ideas for their times? Of course they were, but now we can see their value. I hope many people will continue to produce and support ideas like this one. Let us encourage the dreamers.

    • Massimo PORZIO says:

      Tracy,
      please note in the graph at the link that you posted, that (as I more and more repeated in this thread above), the 44.7% of efficiency is only for multi-junctions cell (violet traces), silicon cell (blue traces) can’t exceed 25% because of their Plank’s black bodies which are centered too far from the Sun one.
      The physical limit for silicon cell is due to the relatively little superimposition area from the two BB (one is centered at about 900nm and the second is at about 599nm).
      The multi-junction cell are very good laboratory experiments, but while silicon is very diffused on Earth gallium, phosphor, arsenic and indium aren’t so.
      And more, the solar energy production is too much stochastic, without an energy storage system is useless.
      At the moment solar panels are good for little off grid realities.
      Anyways paving a road with glass it’s all but safe for the running cars. Ask to your mechanical engineers what they do think about pushing the car’s brakes pedal on that surface.

      I apologize for my English (I’m Italian).

      Have a nice day.

      Massimo

      • Bart says:

        Thanks for the info, Massimo. What about effects of aging? How long do typical cells last before the voltage they produce degrades significantly?

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          Hi Bart,
          sincerely I have no experience about the power degradation time of solar panels, that because even if I have an international patent which involves solar panels, I used them for a very different goal.
          I was not interest in efficiency, so my tests on many kinds of those devices were mostly focused on their response time for very small energy perturbation into the bunch of solar irradiation.
          Anyways, some years ago I read a report about the Google solar panel system, where the experts clearly stated that after just few months, the system (it was composed of about 9200 panels, if I remember well) dropped it’s production consistently because of the deposition of PM10 !!!
          I also remember that even in that report, which preceded of few months the shutdown of their on line solar produced energy counter (which, in my opinion, reported always not really enthusiastic production rates), the experts claimed that it was not suggested to introduce any kind of solar tracking systems to improve the efficiency, because the loss introduced by the solar angle was negligible when compared to the pollution degradation.

          So you are absolutely right in your statement about aging.

          Have a nice day.

          Massimo

          • John K says:

            Hi Massimo PORZIO,

            You wrote:

            “even if I have an international patent which involves solar panels, I used them for a very different goal.”

            You’re not sure if you have an international patent involving solar panels?

            and further:

            “the experts clearly stated that after just few months, the system (it was composed of about 9200 panels, if I remember well) dropped it’s production consistently because of the deposition of PM10 !!!”

            You really don’t like diesel, do you?!!! Btw how much did they determine the PM10 diesel additive dropped energy production? Do they have measurements/estimates of pollution induced degradation due to regions using conventional diesel and those using PM10 blends? How do regions that use greater quantities of diesel powered vehicles like western Europe compare to regions that rely more heavily on gasoline blends like the U.S.? Just curious. Thanks.

            Btw, I agree with you about the solar roadways. Many other factors can and have been listed in addition to pollution that would degrade energy production as well.

            Have a great day!

          • Massimo PORZIO says:

            Hi John K,
            Sorry, but I’m Italian and probably what I wrote was misleading you.
            I meant that I have an international patent which involves solar panels, but despite this fact, I’ve no direct experience about power efficiency (and its degradation) because I used the panels for detecting very low energy high speed laser pulses on them.
            >>”You really don’t like diesel, do you?!!!”
            Yes, I hate diesel because (believe it or not), here in Italy I had to stop using my gasoline car many days in past years because the PM10 was too high in our cities, this despite a Euro1 car is about 10 times less PM10 pollutant than an Euro4 diesel car. Now we don’t do that, but the PM10 pollution is still high.
            >>”Do they have measurements/estimates of pollution induced degradation due to regions using conventional diesel and those using PM10 blends?”
            Despite I’m absolutely contrary to diesel, I’m not the one who did the Google commissioned report. That report was done directly on the surface of the Google’s panels located on their roofs in Mountain View CA.
            They just analyzed the panels surface, and concluded that the PM10 was the culprit of the degradation. Note that even diesel are the most known PM10 pollutant here in Western Europe, I’m not automatically stating that diesel it’s the culprit of the PM10 concentration in San Francisco area too.
            Anyways, PM10 was the matter which etched to the Google’s panels surface and was hard to clean away, this was the fact reported in that pdf document.
            AFAIK, unlikely Google removed all their solar panels project information web pages from their website, comprising that pdf.
            Have a nice day.
            By the way, diesel had been declared carcinogenic by WHO in
            2012.
            http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/world-health-organization-says-diesel-exhaust-causes-cancer2012.

            The sad about this is that in late 80es I read an article on a medicine journal which already reported this.
            Twenty years have passed and a continent like Europe has converted to diesel cars in the meantime in the false goal of protect “Gaia”, while (probably) the real goal was to empty the stocks of diesel fuel which the big oil companies have accumulated those years because it was over produced as a byproduct of gasoline.

            Have a nice day.

            Massimo

          • JohnKl says:

            Hi Massimo PORZIO,

            Thank you for the input regarding PM10, diesel and related link. Particulate matter has declined significantly where I reside in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, apparently many remain concerned about it.

            “The PM-10 standard includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less (0.0004 inches or one-seventh the width of a human hair). EPA’s health-based national air quality standard for PM-10 is 50 µg/m3 (measured as an annual mean) and 150 µg/m3 (measured as a daily concentration). Major concerns for human health from exposure to PM-10 include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter. Acidic PM-10 can also damage human-made materials and is a major cause of reduced visibility in many parts of the U.S. New scientific studies suggest that fine particles (smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) may cause serious adverse health effects. As a result, EPA is considering setting a new standard for PM-2.5.”

            Theoretically, diesel fuel blends have been regulated to conform with standards similar to gasoline. The issue in part remains particulate matter per quantum of energy generated. Since diesel combustion produces ~30-40% more energy per liquid volume than gasoline & supposedly approximately the same particulate matter ( although it seems you have evidence against the latter point – and apparently so does the state of California see quote below ) many may be under the impression diesel will prove a bargain financially and possibly ecologically. Please let me know what studies you may have come across in this regard that may shed additional light.

            You also noted:

            “By the way, diesel had been declared carcinogenic by WHO in
            2012.”

            Particulates from most any combustible source will little doubt be linked to cancer. This has been seen since the Nazi scientists apparently first discovered the link between SMOKING and cancer. In California, I believe gasoline stations and parking garages post a California state advisory to the effect that they’ve determined that the chemicals at the facility have been determined by the State of California to cause cancer.

            Apparently, diesel fuel has been claimed to have much higher levels of particulate matter:

            “Diesel engine exhaust can cause lung cancer. Long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particles poses the highest risk of any toxic air contaminant evaluated by California’s
            Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. On average, long-term occupational
            exposures to diesel exhaust are associated with a 40 percent increase in the relative risk of
            lung cancer. California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that about 70 percent of the cancer risk that the average Californian faces from breathing toxic air contaminants stems from diesel exhaust particles. Diesel exhaust also causes lung diseases such as asthma, and
            it may damage the immune system, increasing the risk of allergies…Diesel engine exhaust is a mixture of thousands of different gases and tiny particles. The particles are
            most important. They include polycyclic aromatic
            hydrocarbons (PAHs) and metals such as nickel and
            arsenic (these are known causes of human cancer).
            Most diesel particles are small enough to be inhaled
            deep into the lungs, where they pose the greatest
            hazard. Diesel exhaust contains 20 times more
            particles than gasoline exhaust does. Some of the
            main toxic gases in diesel exhaust are nitrogen
            oxides, sulfur oxides, and carbon monoxide.”

            Please let me know if you have any info. Thanks.

            Have a great day!

      • Tracy says:

        Massimo,

        Thank you for correcting me on the efficiency.

        Tracy

        • Massimo PORZIO says:

          Tracy, you are welcome.
          Many people push the multi-junction cells as a mature technology, but unluckily it is not indeed.
          Many also confuses the silicon monocrystalline and the polycrystalline, but the first has a good efficiency and a very high price due to the very slow monocrystalline growing process, while the second is very cheaper than the first because it is essentially the scrap of the first technology but has much lower efficiency.
          Some push the argument of lowering prices for greater demand monocrystalline wafers, but it worked in conventional electronics only because along the passed years the microcircuits technologies have consistently reduced the size of the monocrystalline chips. For example a famous Intel microcontroller designed in 1980 was made on a 144mmq chip, now the very same processor with about 4 times the memory is made over a tiny 2mmq chip, so its price is about one tenth of the predecessor despite its more computational power.
          This don’t apply for solar panel which need a great surface area for convert photons in energy.
          A solar cell usually uses a whole monocrystalline slice.

          Have a nice day.

          Massimo

    • Frank K. says:

      “Keeping the roads clean does not seem like a difficult engineering task to solve, which they already have, partially. You will notice their prototype had a raised (bumpy) contact surface, allowing water and dirt to flow around the raised areas. The lowered areas could be coated with self-cleaning lubricant. Not an impossible problem to solve.”

      Actually, this is the show stopper in my opinion. There is NO cost efficient way to keep roads clean if there is any appreciable amount of traffic. And don’t you think that obscuring solar cells with dirt, scratches, and debris (and “lubricant”??) will effectively render them useless in a short amount of time?

      Now, where I DO see this kind of technology being potentially useful is for **pedestrian** walkways in cities (no cars allowed), which would stand a much higher chance of being kept clear. And if there is a power shortage, people could be instructed to “stay off the streets”! :-)

    • Joe Wooten says:

      Sure you’re an engineer with GM

    • LDELDE says:

      OMG – thank you Tracy for voicing that it is more important to talk about developing our technology than just bashing it. So many engineers did not agree with “free energy” technology or electric cars 50 years – but now look where we have come.

      The concept is awesome and whatever technology needs tweaking can be done. Perhaps this product will never be used for interstates, highways, roads or bridges, but it can be successful for driveways, playgrounds, sidewalks and perhaps even stadium parking where the lot is empty more days than they are in use.

      Cost is always an issue initially. My very first VCR cost $700 back in 1984. Laptops were $2,000 10 years ago. Cell phones were in a suitcase and cell phone minutes were astronomical in the late 80′s. As technology improves and competition enters the market the price will adjust as well…so why belabor that issue?

      We need to encourage the next generation to think outside of the box and this project is a good example of doing just that.

      • Mark Luhman says:

        You are comparing apples to oranges. When I was you we were suppose to not need roads by now, everyone would be flying roads would only be need to get to the airport to the grocery store, they even had prototype car/planes. That really work out well. It was a crappy plane and a crappy car all the development in the world could not change that. The same with solar cells anywhere they are lose lose, only place they are viable is where the cost to bring conventional power in is to costly, they do have a place at this time it very limited and I do not wee that changing anytime soon if ever. Think solar cell will fix our power problem is like thinking spending two to earn one would fix you financial problems., but casinos are full of people like forever optimistic that somehow they can defeat the system, were the reality is if you play on casino machine long enough the casino will have all your money. If you wish to gamble fine do it with your money not mine, If you think this ideas is a good one send them money, but do not propose ever spending on dime of tax payer money on it, If you want to gamble fine do it but don’t draw me into it.

        • Chris says:

          I second that. By all means spend your money on it if you wish – but don’t force me (via the taxation system) to finance this.

      • Frank K. says:

        When some starts a post on technology with “OMG”…

        • Steve says:

          Y’see, what we have here is that we’re trying to converse about an issue or idea with a bunch of hired hands for this ‘Solar Roadway’ scam. Mac, Tracy, LLelde… they’re all just bots for the scam site. Have you noticed that they all repeat the same talking points, and they all pull out these pat little examples of how this should work, how positive we should be about it, and comparing the idea with concepts or products from our past that all turned out OK.
          There’s more science in one of Massimo’s lovely posts than in all of the bots’ remarks combined.
          It’s kinda like talking with Nancy Pelosi, who (in)famously crowed, “… we have to pass this bill, so we can find out what’s in it!”

          Thanks Roy, for your site, and standing strong and fighting the global warming/cooling/climate-change-of-the-week crowd.
          I’m out.

  41. Karl Berna says:

    This little article should have a little caption under the title saying…Sponsored by Every Oil Manufacturer in the World…anytime there is any talk of new ways to provide energy that doesn’t have anything to do with oil, there are tons of paid experts to talk it down…ahhhh the magic of big money.

    • Bart says:

      Hardly. You don’t have to be particularly enamored with oil to recognize which technologies are scalable to our current needs, and which aren’t. Or, to recognize that the reason oil is so sought after is because of the relative ease of extraction, the enormous amounts of energy relatively stably locked in those long molecular chains, and the ease with which it can be transported, stored, and called upon at any time day or night to release its store of energy via mere oxidation.

      The oil barons actually love alternatives. They know they have no real competition, and restrictions on production have the perverse effect of driving the price of oil up, so they can make the same profit with less effort. If environmental restrictions pummel their only sizable competitors in the coal industry, so much the better.

  42. Gunga Din says:

    3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?

    ====================================================
    And what happens when there’s a wreck that involves leaked fuel? Might not a wreck break and possibly short out one of these things?
    Fuel + spark = burn victims

    And what would be the cost “repaving”?

    And what about a waterline break?

  43. justin sciacca says:

    It says there is a heater element in each to melt the snow. plus most streets are clear of over hang and trees. have direct acceess to 12 o clock sun and wont need to track.. Yes its best to track the sun in small amounts. but when you have millions and billions of these. they will do the trick.

  44. Doug says:

    Life would be much better if we still lived in caves. Just sayin’.

    • Mark Luhman says:

      This idea is like keeping the cave but let make them float in the sky, a few more skins and I will make the idea work. Don’t pay attention to the man making house out of wood after all wood burns and cave don’t.

    • donna says:

      halleluah!!!!! makes sense, but then you wouldn’t be reading this now would you?

  45. robert rennick says:

    It’s my opinion that these Solar Roadways would be a bad idea for main roads but for car parks and housing estates, or even walk ways it might work. It could be a useful way to generate clean power but i don’t see it replacing power plants. If it wore to work it would have to developed by proper engineers.

    • Mac says:

      I think you’d be happy to know that this is exactly how they plan to use the Hexagonal Solar Panels: Roadways, Car Parks, Housing Estates, Business Recreational Centers, etc. It is starting off privately and anyone can replace their driveway or front yard with these things.

      Ta-dah!

  46. navydiver says:

    I wonder what the response was just over 100 years ago when people said we need to put a hard surface down all over the country for these new fangled automobiles because dirt roads just aren’t cutting it? Is this concept unflawed? No. Is it a starting point for more radical thinking? yes. Most comments are based on todays automobiles and transit systems. Just as surely as tire, suspension and transmission technology changed with the advent of the asphalt road, so it will if these become commonplace. Personally given the chance to have these in my driveway rather than a bunch of panels on my roof I’d go for it. Thousands of people have invested in solar panels at a low efficiency and are happy with their investment. The big problem here is that 100 years on we now have to devise a complete new infrastructure over the legacy system which is far from perfect. Hopefully we have learned a lot over the last century and can apply that knowledge usefully to the future. It’s a good thing to have so many doubters out there but I come from a background where we say thank you for pointing out the problem, but what is your proposed solution.

    • Gunga Din says:

      Solution to what?
      But if you want to fund this or invest in it yourself, go for it. But go for it without the taxpayers cash.

    • Frank K. says:

      We doubters are just trying save people from going down the wrong path. But, hey, it’s free enterprise (for now at least)! If you want to invest YOUR MONEY in this technology, go for it. I think one thing we all agree on here is the free market will sort out the winners and losers. Where I **strongly** object is when public money (i.e. my tax dollars) are foolishly invested in (IMO) expensive, unworkable schemes like this…

    • Chris says:

      Those people are only happy because they get paid an unrealistic price for their power, and get to use the transmission/distribution system for free.

      Sooner or later people who have solar panels will need to be paid wholesale prices for their electricity, and pay for the use of infrastructure they currently use for free.

      I don’t think they will be so happy one they are being paid realistic commercial rates.

  47. JohnKl says:

    Hi Roy,

    Among the many possible problems with this solutions remains the quite likely problem of increased FLOODING! Many if not most places in the US currently use porous asphalt when resurfacing their roads which allows excess road fluid build-up to pass through the asphalt to the soil below. This helps prevent pools of water forming on the roads and related problems. In addition, the many environmental factors that result in pot-holes, road degradation, sub-surface exposure, etc. would, in the event solar roadways become adopted, apply to them as well. The extensive electrical wiring required throughout such road surfaces would require extensive insulation and environmental protection and could be easily damaged in the event of any number of traffic accidents, chemical spills, what they’ll call Acts of God, etc.. Add to the enormous fixed cost of constructing such solar roadways the equally enormous maintenance, repair and support costs and government contractors face many fat, happy and profitable years on the government dole indeed. Time to get a contractors license!

    Have a great day!

  48. nick says:

    I find the negativity toward this awesome idea idiotic. 40 years ago a cell phone was a ridiculous dream NEVER to come true and look where we are now. Stop fighting change amd imagination. Our planet can not take much more of our abuse. We need to embrace ideas such as these and get behind them. Solar highways havey vote and my donation.

    • John K says:

      Hi Nick,

      40 years ago people did have mobile communication systems, although not as advanced as todays phone, computer, gps, messaging combos. In fact, the concept behind cell phones goes back farther than 40 years ago. It’s not a new idea. Personally, I have nothing against solar powered or even electrified roads. The technology already exists. The question is whether the application makes sense given the problems inherent in the concept. Each person should make up their own mind. If you wish to fund and build one, go ahead. We’d all love to see it.

      Have a great day!

    • Gunga Din says:

      Our planet can not take much more of our abuse.

      =========================================
      What? Just when did “she” tell you she was being abused? How did she tell you? Perhaps “she” considers cell phone towers a pimple on her complexion?

      As I said above, if you want to fund this or invest in it yourself, go for it. But go for it without the taxpayers cash.

    • Mark Luhman says:

      So were fly cars, that one did work out did it?

    • Frank K. says:

      Go for it Nick! Free enterprise. Be a dreamer! Please invest all of you assets, and let us know how it goes…

  49. Starr says:

    Why don’t you try being part of the solution instead of part of the problem? Is big corporation paying you to get on these sites and try and run them down? I think you need to ask yourself “What kind of American are you” ? I can imagine you would have found all sorts of excuses why the colonists should not have come here.

    • Gunga Din says:

      The problem is the “solutions” to the “problem” are the problem.

      • philip says:

        We are awash in ocean of electromagnetic fields energies that life has never before had to deal with, ever. The problem is that life can’t be sustained with man’s altering its molecular make up. A case in point is the unprecedented obesity of 1/3 of the world’s population and the skyrocketing of body/mind complaints. That’s our current situation which leading to our own ruin. Think before you sink.

    • Joe Wooten says:

      Is big corporation paying you to get on these sites and try and run them down?

      I wish….With one in college, I could use the extra cash…..Big Oil, I am for sale…..

    • Frank K. says:

      Big corporation = Apple, Starbucks, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft…

    • Chris says:

      But if this succeeds – wont they be the new big corporation? And will you then hate them?

  50. KuhnKat says:

    I wonder how many of these people screeching that we should get behind this technology would STILL be behind it if they found out that they would have to be virtual PAUPERS for the rest of their lives to see their dreams realized!!! In other words, they could stand at the side of the roads and watch the Politicians and Corporate Owners along with the heads of WWF, Greenpeace, Sierra Club… drive on their dream!!!

    • John K says:

      Hi KuhnKat,

      Agreed. Moreover, plans already exist to provide electrified road systems to charge electric vehicles in some well-off professional municipalities, university campuses, etc. Of course, the average person will never drive many of these roads or ever have access to many of them. It’s kind of like Tesla motors. The average joe can take solace that his hours toiling away at some menial, poorly compensated profession will generate enough money for others to confiscate and subsidize yet another new $100K Tesla model for people like George Clooney. That he’ll never see the fruit of those hours will not bother the progressive mind. He’s delighted that others can adorn themselves with it. You think?

      Have a great day!

      • navydiver says:

        got to love capitalism!

        • JohnKl says:

          Hi Navydiver,

          Hmmh! If we really lived in a capitalist system, we wouldn’t have the fruit of our labors confiscated to subsidize lower cost electric limo’s for movie stars. Perhaps the market would just supply it to those who wish to fork over the bucks. Ya think?

          Have a great day!

  51. Brandon Hall says:

    Dr.Spencer, what are your engineering credentials? The creator of the panels in question is an engineer. The FHA paid for the initial prototypes, and the design in now in its second phase. Why on earth would you make such a mockery of your own credentials by not even reviewing the FAQ on the website? Indeed sir, it may be that you’ve entered the wrong profession. Perhaps Alex Jones has an opening for you in his organization more suited to your particular proclivities. A little due diligence goes a long way, so your guesswork is laughably unacceptable.

    • Frank K. says:

      “The FHA paid for the initial prototypes”

      REALLY?? So public money WAS involved. I knew it…

      I’m sure Solyndra was well along in their technology – they even had robots!!

      (p.s. I’m a Ph.D. Mechanical Engineer…since 1993)

    • Roy Spencer says:

      It’s the DOT, not the FHA that has awarded these SBIR contracts. After close to a million dollar investment by the DOT, this couple will have supposedly built a solar parking lot large enough to park 4 cars (which, of course, would shade most of the collector surface).

      I used to review SBIR contract proposals for NASA. SBIR is meant to fund risky innovative concepts…well, this certainly is risky.

      I have read the FAQs, and they are merely handwaving exercises, essentially saying “we are studying that”. Not answered is the central question of, “how much would it cost”?

      I studied solar energy as part of my PhD, and understand its physical limitations. To FURTHER limit PV solar generation by putting the panels in such a harsh environment as roadways is ludicrous. But it sure seems to have popular support, for some reason.

      • Shadow says:

        Roy,, have a question for you,,
        what do you think about vortex electricity charging and the storage of the electricity problem??
        it is kinda related to this idea.. as eventually the overcharge will have to be put somewhere??
        hopefully, not back into the corporate grid system where they can tax it from us again.. just wondering what your thoughts on that subject would be.. Shadow

        ps: air in, energy out… vortex

  52. Tyler says:

    1.Obviously you wouldn’t replace roads that were constantly under shade. Just roads that are baked by the sun all day.
    2. They have passed all sorts of immense stress tests with flying colors. And there are more roads than roofs.
    3. Do I smell job oppourtunities? And I’m sure cleaning would me minimal and not often.
    4. That’s why they are crowdfunding. So they can raise enough money and attention to start a small project (a parking lot for example) and hopefully gain investor interests after that.

    5. The energy is probably stored. If there is snow on the roads then there obviously isn’t enough sunlight to create the heat/energy to melt the snow. That was obvious. Your an engineer and you are telling me that didn’t even cross your mind? I find that hard to believe. I’m sorry if I’m wrong, but to me it sounds like ambitious projects automatically lack serious credibility in your mind just due to the fact that they are ambitious in nature. It sounds like they perturb your sense of predictability and changelessness in life so you feel the need to shoot them down.

    • Chris says:

      Crowd funding would be easier to get as serious investors would do the necessary due diligence – at which point I suspect they would not back it.

      But if you love – invest in it. I wouldn’t.

    • Bart says:

      “The energy is probably stored.”

      Now that would be technology worth investing in. As of yet, there simply are no large scale, cost effective, safe and reliable, long term means of energy storage available.

      There are huge hurdles to achieving them, not the least including the inevitable parasitic losses, the degradation over time, pollution byproducts, and the explosive peril of binding all of that energy in one place.

  53. In business I tend to trust my gut and my gut reaction to this was wow, we need to find a way to make this a reality; BUT; its so impractical it must either be a scam or those nutters in Congress have finally mastered the art of seeing into the future!

    Of course we need to make it happen, and the fact is the final version will be nothing like what we see in the video. The panel versions will have an application and the investors will eventually see a return, but the early investors are heading for a cold deep bath.

    I for one would love to have the on the driveways connecting my house, gardens etc, we don’t get many chemical tankers spilling their loads there, nor do we have many 50 car pile ups spiking the ground with metal shards.

    Fair play to all the snow melt sceptics, that one was pretty easy to see. And that weakness is pretty easy to exploit by all the vested interests and big corporate concerns too focussed on protecting their asse(t)s as opposed to investing in the future.

    I’ll be in Oregon this summer and would love to be driving down the solar highway to take in a show at Ashland, get building guys.

    • Shadow says:

      Malcolm,
      as an oregonian myself,, I have seen what too much runoff of snow from the mountains can do to my beloved city of Salem, the capital.. it destroyed the streets for days,, and devastated families homes,, I cannot see how melting the snow at a faster rate would be advisable here.. the last time we had a quick thaw,, the dam cracked and they had to overflow the rivers to save it..
      and as for the runoff itself.. where does the water go, but next to the road ways, and become icicles almost immediately,, and that is just here in Oregon,, I have traveled extensively in my years and seen allot worse snow climates than ours.. do you think they have a solution for that one.. Shadow

      ps: I do like the idea for parks and such, but not the roads.. the early warning system could be powered by the system,, but putting it directly into our highways and roads.. bad idea,, at least here.. holograms would be more feasible..

      • donna says:

        what if we could produce enough energy from these to heat the runoff water/snow instantly, turning it to steam, therefore creating even more energy to keep them lit? i am not really a genius, but sometimes i think i am!!!

  54. Harry says:

    I understand where you are coming form and all of your 4-5 points are completely valid. However for every problem you list there is a solution. For example if this eventually became a world effort the electricity generated could power the whole planet sufficiently, even with some roads in darkness or covered by snow. Open-mindedness is key to the future, the plans may not be perfect yet as you point out but I believe that anything imaginable can be done if you look things differently. Experimentation in all things, finding the most economical way to make these plans a reality. The fact is the planet will suffer hugely if there is not a dramatic change soon. This may well be it.

    • Frank K. says:

      “The fact is the planet will suffer hugely if there is not a dramatic change soon.”

      Why do you believe this, Harry? Who telling you these things?

      • Mac says:

        Probably the majority (09%+) of Climatologists. You know, people with specific expertise and years of training in the subject of Earth’s climate? Whom have come to a general agreement that climate change exists? And that we need to do something about it? You know? Those people? They exist?

  55. Robert JM says:

    I’m surprised that no one has seen the obvious solution to the technical problems of solar roads. Firstly we need to get rid of the cars that damage, grease and rubber up the cells, not to mention block valuable sunlight. Then you just need to cover the roads to stop water and snow from damaging the electrics, then finally it makes sense to amp up all the streetlights so you can generate power at night!
    Problem solved

  56. Tim says:

    But it’s a start in the right direction, and is only in its beginning stages

  57. Not a scientist says:

    My parents took me to ride Space Mountain at Disneyworld in the 80′s. After the ride they had an audio-animatronics display of 2 children playing checkers – one was in the US, one in China. Even as a child, I remember thinking that was the coolest, most ridiculous idea I’d ever seen.

    After watching this video (and reading all the posts)- Solar Freaking Roadways is the coolest, most ridiculous idea I’ve ever seen. :)

  58. bfian says:

    Thank you for providing additional insight in such a respectful manner.

  59. madhatter says:

    Its called creating jobs to keep the roadway maintained and quick thing…… Solar panels work even without the sun.. Just like a calculator when ur a kid.. any light produces energy so its self sufficient.. The turn over of free energy to the people or cheaper…. May reduce your bill… And its produced more money than it spends.. So the people that maintain it.. Keep it that way.. Your theory is false.. I have a regular main road next to my house and you want to talk about beat up.. It is time for a revolutionary change on how we consume our energy.. Be optimistic.. Nobody likes a pessimist. is obviously trial and error has yo occur.. And the solar power panels conduct heat in the winter so.. It might be safer to drive on them in the snow

    • socalDriver says:

      Have you considered how your local roadways are currently being maintained? No matter the efficiency of the power panels or the claimed 250,000lb load rating, you’ll have to radically reinvent the entire road maintenance system to have workmen continually fixing those panels. Think of all the potholes in the roads you travel, how fast are they repaired?

  60. p18n says:

    Another point – if this couple doesn’t do it then someone else will come up with a better mousetrap and will build it.

    Either way, change is coming.

    • donna says:

      were they on SHARK TANK? Lots of money people have and don’t know what to do with it! i for one don’t have money but think there are people out there could make this happen, they just need to be informed/curious/passionate/concerned about the health of our world. just spread the word, folks!

  61. Roger Wauters says:

    They would do good indeed with telling us the technical specifics so we know there can be trust in it. I had the same questions: heavy trafic endurance, residu of tires, maintenance, costs ………

  62. michael woodford says:

    i will say one thing on this its a smart thing to do and y say it wont work u can power a whole house off like 10 solar panels and u want to say it wont work u dont have to have them facing the sun all the time thats why you use glass to reflect the sun light thats how solar panels work

  63. V. Lynn says:

    Eduardo, you’re a douche.

    • Mac says:

      Generally, name calling implies you only think the opposing person has a valid point or opinion, and you don’t have one in response.

  64. Erin O'Brien says:

    I am always skeptical of greenwashing, but I also know that solar panels are getting much cheaper to produce and more efficient.

    I also love how you are invoking the whole “is this even possible?” question and you haven’t even investigated what they claim their data is. It could very well be that there is enough power generated to offset snow melt. Another factor that hasn’t been mentioned while we’re talking about expense is the massive cost to build a road in the first place. So massive that states like Colorado are engaging in massive leases to private companies for 50 years- possibly beyond the time that I’m even physically able to drive as I’ll be in my 90′s by then.

    Point is- if you were in charge in the 50′s we’d never had gotten to the moon. The fact that you haven’t even researched what you’re criticizing speaks to some really non-scientific behavior on your part.

    As an engineer, as someone who supposedly loves sciency stuff, someone who is interested in the really complex behavior of planetary weather and other really cool, important stuff that is still pretty damn muddy even at the expert level, I’d hope that you could at least SHOW us all that there isn’t enough electricity and SHOW us all how much more expensive it is to put these thing in as opposed to re-paving and repainting.

    If you can show us that, great. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, just that it hasn’t been achieved yet.

    • navydiver says:

      Erin don’t worry, by then there’ll be driverless cars so you won’t have to physically drive anymore.

  65. Kerry says:

    Find a few heavily used parking lots to pilot the technology. Measure the results objectively and report them.

  66. Michael Hopkins says:

    Dr. Spencer,

    I think your questions lead to more questions (which is good), but you seem to be throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

    Your point:
    1. You can’t point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency (which is only about 15% for photovoltaics, anyway, which makes PV generation expensive on a large scale).

    My response:
    True, but I don’t think that eliminates the viability of the project. The question might be “Isn’t an inefficient solar array better than none at all?” That’s the way solar power began when it was on a rooftop alone.

    Your point:
    2. Why embed solar panels in such a harsh environment where they are constantly being run over and flexed by millions of tons of vehicles? There are many more practical locations to use (such as roofs, that face southward).

    My response:
    I don’t think using the solar panels on a roadway would eliminate using them on houses. Your point seems to be lacking. Also, I don’t believe that the “millions of tons of vehicles” are all balanced on one panel at one moment in time. If you have ever seen anyone lie down on a bed of nails without injury, that would also seem to defy logic unless you take into account surface area and weight distribution. Also, the documentation I saw did mention replacing damaged panels. A more prudent question might be, “How often would panels need to be replaced when the roadway is under heavy traffic on a daily basis?”

    Your point:
    3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?

    My response:
    Granted, road grime would be an issue up front. However, where does the majority of the grime originate? If it is from the asphalt and concrete used on the existing roadways, then this will be eliminated over time as they are phased out. As you mentioned, there is also oil (and other fluids) from the existing vehicles on the road. Many of these (with the exception of the oil) will be washed away with rainfall. The oil might require a vehicle such as a street sweeper to be used. With potential elimination of the salt trucks and snow plows this might be an even trade in colder climates, but warmer climates would potentially have higher expenditures for local governments. A question I might have is, “What detergent could be used safely to clean the solar array?”

    Your point:
    4. Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?

    My response:
    This is a real question that should be answered before any government agency move forward. However, assuming that this is “obscenely” expensive is short-sided and means different things to different people. If I were to tell you that it would cost the average-sized city $100 billion dollars to phase out their current roadways, then that number would be shocking in itself. However, if I told you at the same time it would save the city (and subsequent taxpayers) ten times that much over the 5 years, would that make a difference? My more pointed question is, “What is the cost-to-benefit ratio of these panels?”

    I think it boils down to this; Your responses seem to be as negatively agenda based as their video is “pie-in-the-sky” utopia based.

    This idea warrants questions the require fact-based answers.

    -What is the true cost a city could expect to incur if only a small percentage of the roads are replaced?
    -What is the return on investment in the same scenario?
    -What impact on the job market (if any) would occur if all the companies that contract the road work from local cities, are suddenly forced to either change the expertise of their workforce or lose their jobs altogether?
    -What is the break-even point when reviewing installation vs. energy returned from the solar array?

    There are tons more questions that arise, but none of them have anything to do with “don’t look at the snake oil salesmen over there”.

  67. AuntSister53 says:

    Good discussion! I don’t appreciate the name calling, however. To me this issue, like so many others is about dreaming up new ideas and then developing the technology to accomplish it.

    Growing up in the 60s in Huntsville I saw the space program and the technology develop at an amazing pace as we poured money into the R&D required to make it work. IMO that is what is needed in solar, wind, and other alternative technologies. The bottleneck in solar seems to be energy storage (I am not an engineer)(I am a taxpayer, however).

    TO ME, the thing we need to do as a country is invest in discovering a way to utilize the sun’s free bounteous energy to the max. Right now our political leaders seem to have lost the vision for doing such things. I love the lifestyle that petroleum products have enabled us to live, but I also like advancements in all areas of technology. The solar road may be totally infeasible right now, but in 10 or 20 years, totally practical. We might be zipping around in autos that don’t touch the ground, are powered by xyzimum, and so forth. OR we might decide to use this idea in limited fashion in other places.

    The stuff I read as science fiction as a kid is not so ridiculous now, some is everyday fact, and some just found to be not practical. The enmity and divisive rhetoric between liberals and conservatives (me), global warming believers and those who don’t(me), and scientists and liberal arts majors (that would be me again)isn’t helping either side. We are dismissing and devaluing each other and shutting off ideas that could benefit us all.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      and as long as we need energy, there will be HUGE investments in achieving what you suggest. And I work in the space program, so I know a little about it, and whether you can compare it to other commercially viable endeavors.

      But doing things that are demonstrably stupid is not a good use of the public’s money. I guarantee you the solar roadways project will go nowhere, because it will be prohibitively expensive (even for PV generation) and impractical. (Let’s see even 10 ft of real roadway generate electricity, and see how much it produces in one year, and how well the surface survives.)

      I usually don’t make predictions.

  68. Ted says:

    I have a few issues with your engineer problems. A solar road would not have to face the sun directly to continue absorbing energy. Certainly enough energy to still function. When is the last time you drove a major highway and did have the sun beaming into your vehicle.

    Secondly, the melting snow example is wrong. Here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. The dark surface has to be warmed by the sun in order for it to melt the snow. Now here’s the tricky part. The dark surface can’t warm up because it’s covered in snow. Wow. Thought that was an obvious one.

    • Roy Spencer says:

      Just because sunlight shines on it doesn’t mean you can collect electricity economically.

      And snow DOES melt faster on asphalt than on grass when the sun comes out. Some of the sunlight is transmitted through the snow, and absorbed by the underlying surface.

      “Wow, thought that was an obvious one.”

      • Gunga Din says:

        Part of my driveway is asphalt and the rest concrete. Even when the temperature remains below freezing the asphalt part always melts first except for about a 3 foot section near the garage door that never gets direct sunlight.

  69. James D says:

    But, it’s Brawndo! It’s got what plants crave! It’s got electrolytes!

    This is a great idea! It’s fairly obviously it will be tweaked, tested and re-tested. The application will simply be less broad initially and through time, maybe it hits widespread areas. Both “sides” of this debate are correct. TO those whining, stop whining. One engineer needs the other dreamer to make this happen (and it will). I look forward to seeing this device in small applications over time where it makes logical sense (probably not in the Colorado Rockies anytime soon?).

    Perhaps there’s still hope and we can avoid Idiocracy? Why come you don’t have a tattoo?

  70. Jim Mitchell says:

    If it really is feasible then we’ll be seeing small scale trials, parking lots, driveways, etc. before long. If it’s really a lousy unworkable idea, then wasting massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on it won’t help. Let the free market decide.

  71. Monte says:

    Who cares if it doesn’t capture much sun light if the angles aren’t right. at the end, it’s capturing & generating electricity which otherwise be wasted on bitumen and concrete anyway.

    • Bart says:

      But, that bitumen and concrete cost a lot less, i.e., require a lot less effort, to procure and apply. So much less that the pittance of electricity you could generate would not come near closing the gap for what you paid, and what you received in return.

      • Monte says:

        Doesn’t necessarily have to stretch for mile. you only need to have them in hazardous location where it’s know for it’s high fatality rate during foggy days…or easy transition of multiple traffic lanes during business hours where it’s needed. like over a 4 or 5 lane bridge or something.

  72. Bart says:

    It comes down to this, I think. Too many people just have no concept of the Brobdingnagian amounts of energy our industrial society requires, and they cannot do the math to understand the pittances provided by these “green” sources. Or, the incredible concentration of energy locked up in those long chains of hydrocarbons we so easily pump out of the ground.

    There are basically two technologies which can provide the amounts needed to satisfy our appetite: fossil fuels, and nuclear power. The former because of those aforementioned hydrocarbon chains, the latter because of E = mc^2.

    Solar power is not “free”, anymore than any other energy source. You have to build apparatuses to capture it, transmit it, and store it, just like you have to for fossil fuels or any other. But, the return per unit of effort invested in doing so is so small that it isn’t worth it. The manufacture of the panels produces highly toxic waste (google “silicon tetrachloride”) and is energy intensive in its own right. The amount of material needed just for support structure to make a sizable dent in our energy budget is staggering – decades approaching centuries of current total worldwide annual production of some materials.

    It isn’t going to happen. I’ve been seeing these pie-in-the-sky proposals all my life, and the ROI is still negative. You’ve got the two choices I gave above. If you think oil is “icky”, you should jump on the nuclear train. But, be forewarned, it isn’t going to eliminate oil from our lives, which is just too useful for too many applications to just go away. From plastics, to pharmaceuticals, to food processing… even to chewing gum, which is, in case you were unaware, a petroleum product… oil is ubiquitous in our daily lives, and that isn’t going to change in the next year, in the next decade, century, or millennium.

  73. westcoaster says:

    Braking in a rainstorm on glass to avoid an animal or another car? Ha Ha–have fun with that! Asphalt 200ft, glass 500 feet.

  74. Brad says:

    Wow what a good debate,

    How is new technology found? It is discovered! It appears that currently solar technology is not at the point where it can revolutionize energy on earth but it is closer than ever. Every problem has a solution and eventually if people like this couple persevere with there work they might make a breakthrough like they are already doing and have a shot at changing the planet for the better the same as Edison with the light bulb. everything starts as a dream and then the trials of how and the setbacks follow, what have you all done that revolutionizes any part of life? nothing? something? if you had then your attitude maybe one of aspiration.

  75. Keith McAleer says:

    #1 Yes the panels wouldn’t always face the sun, but panels are becoming cheaper and more efficient. The newest pv even have cells that can collect solar radiation independently of each other (instead of in array) so if part of a panel is shaded you can still generate electricity from the part that is not.

    #2 There might be more practical locations where you live, but in California all land is valuable. Covering rural land with solar panels is taking up good agriculture and natural lands and covering rooftops can be in conflict with urban trees that can also shade each home and reduce energy usage. Pavement is would be a great place to put pv if possible.
    #3 I don’t know, street sweepers? This problem seems solvable.
    #4 We should pay for this. If this works half as well as they are saying then it sounds like lots of jobs and a much healthier society.

    With that said I do acknowledge that many times these kinds of projects can have intended consequences, delays, etc. It’s the nature of the beast. I truly hope our government keeps investing in this technology and that it is actually successful.

    • JohnKl says:

      Hi Keith McAleer,

      “I truly hope our government keeps investing in this technology and that it is actually successful.”

      Why not wait til the technology proves successful before investing in it? Why not let individuals choose for themselves if they wish to invest in it? Just saying!

      Have a great day!

  76. Ann says:

    Even if this is not a perfect solution, elements of it could have potential in smaller projects to eventually help eliminate costs with snow removal for public facilities, parking lots, drives, etc.

  77. Chris says:

    Mains power needs to be consumed the moment it is generated. It cannot currently be stored. Electric power doesn’t go around in circles on the grid until someone needs it. If instantaneous consumption is not carefully matched to instantaneous production bad things happen to the voltage and frequency.

    A 1kW panel typically makes 4kWh per day (1/6th of what would be expected if it really could produce 1kW per hour), and most of that happens around midday when the sun is directly overhead. Before and after midday production drops off and gets close to zero well before sunset and well after sunrise.

    So the idea is to build all the nuclear/coal/gas plants you need so you can have power at night, in the morning and the afternoon, and then to build this infrastructure as well so that the nuclear/coal/gas plants can be run essentially on standby for a few hours at midday while the panels take over.

    If clouds move over an area the nuclear/coal/gas plants would need to be rapidly brought back online.

    Total cost of infrastructure would be more than doubled.

    The nuclear/coal and gas plants are still operating around midday but at much reduced efficiency, to take up the load when it is required.

    Huge duplication of generating capacity, and reduced efficiency of base load power.

    And most of the people on this forum think this is a good idea.

    I am glad I don’t live in the USA.

  78. None of the objections to this idea sound credible to me. They are so pat and so inane as to make me immediately attribute them to the fossil fuel industry. If you are not a fossil fuel industry spokesperson and you have legitimate objections to this project I want to hear them. That is why I took a look at this thread but you need to do better than this if you want to be taken seriously.

    • Shadow says:

      Mr. Underhill,
      I tried to send you a reply that was useful,, but either your website does not function correctly or my website will not allow it.. I believe I can help here, if you would contact me..
      jimbooth7007@juno.com

  79. Indiegogo.com has provided enough to get started. It will soon be clear to the venture capitalists whether this is or is not something they want to invest in. If it is able to do some portion of what they hope for it has great potential. Some comment back there pointed out that it will generate less electricity on cloudy days. That is true, research shows that photo-voltaic solar generates 20% less electricity on cloudy days. That means that it is 80% effective which isn’t bad in my book.

  80. Griffing says:

    Can someone explain something to me, please? The argument is made repeatedly that, essentially, the more of these we produce the cheaper they will be. How do we know that? What if instead the cost goes up the more we produce?

    As an example, forget the solar power generation part for the moment. Each of these little things is supposed to be wirelessly connected to its neighbors and have a microcontroller. Can you build wireless devices and microcontrollers with widely available materials or do you need rare earth metals?

    The argument that everything gets cheaper the more you produce seems a little simplistic to me. And it keeps being said like it’s a given. Can someone defend or refute this argument, please?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Vulfie Munson says:

      For the makers it will become cheaper, buying in bulk and streamlining production…nothing says these savings will go to anybody but the investors or the owners of the idea.

      • Anon says:

        The problem is that, for a lot of the materials needed, there is only so much produced each year, and this would tie up 1000% of it for decades just to get it implemented, and then it would continue to tie up a massive amount of it in mainanence. Buying in bulk and streamlining don’t make there be more of a rare material; it will actually drive the costs up as those resources are exhausted.

        • Vulfie Munson says:

          What are the rare materials?

          • Griffing says:

            “High-tech products and renewable energy technology cannot function without rare earth metals. Neodymium, terbium and dysprosium are essential ingredients in the magnets of wind turbines and computer hard drives; a number of rare earth metals are used in nickel-metal-hydride rechargeable batteries that power electric vehicles and many other products; yttrium is necessary for color TVs, fuel cells and fluorescent lamps; europium is a component of compact fluorescent bulbs and TV and iPhone screens; cerium and lanthanum are used in catalytic converters; platinum group metals are needed as catalysts in fuel cell technology; and other rare earth metals are essential for solar cells, cell phones, computer chips, medical imaging, jet engines, defense technology, and much more.”

            http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/09/19/rare-earth-metals-will-we-have-enough/

        • Bart says:

          Yes. You cannot beat the law of supply and demand. Even if, as some people think will happen, the immediate price drops below fossil fuels on a unit per unit basis, it would not stay that way if demand ramped up. When you start hitting the bottlenecks in acquisition and production, then the price soars.

  81. mark says:

    the truth is that solar dose not work i know because i live in blythe ca and we have solar farms all over. the reason they dont work is they have to buy more power from edison to cool the inverters than the panels produce and they have to replace the ac filters monthly and there is way to many people on the payrole for it to be cost efective, not to mention there ugly. so if you put them on the road whats to stop people from removing them boy what a pothole that would be? thanks obama for spending are money on what could be the worse idea yet.

    • Connor says:

      How and why would someone take out a piece of the road kid?

      Learn how to punctuate as well.

      You sound like Cartman.

      • mark says:

        why do people steal are you stupid lets see how that road fairs in compton ca.

      • Bart says:

        Yet, his argument is cogent. The devil is in the details. What looks great on the surface hides ugliness beneath. There are a lot of practical problems with the generation and distribution of solar power from remote locations which are not generally revealed to the public. On the whole, they are very inefficient, in terms of effort expended for the result, compared to conventional power generation.

  82. An Engineer says:

    A little tip about thermodynamics . . actually do the math before you go making statements about it. You might find that a given surface doesn’t radiate all of it’s absorbed energy back out to effect it’s environment, it in fact tries to reach a state of equilibrium. So unless the surrounding environment is at absolute zero some energy will be retained. And the failure in logic you displayed there continues as you didn’t consider covering materials that can self clean nor did you consider that the hardest wearing material is a carbon molecular latice, which is transparent, so if someone could find a way to cheaply make said material, then yes you could mount solar panels underneath it and keep them protected from the rigours of the vehicles passing over them. And don’t even get me started on how roads have cambers and actually in reality, face more than one direction at once.

  83. Vulfie Munson says:

    I’m not sure why a lot of people are arguing over this…Let them build a 5 mile stretch of active highway at their cost and prove to everyone that it works, if it does let’s fund it, if not don’t fund it.

  84. Tom says:

    I’m all for having a better form of energy production. But practically speaking, I don’t think this will work. The cost of producing the panels along with the installation and maintenance would probably far out weigh the benefits. Looking at the pictures of the panels surface would cause other problems. Driving on these panels would bumpy and very noisy. As a mechanic, it would be extremely difficult to diagnose a problem with a vehicle that has a vibration problem. (i.e. is it the wheels that are out of balance, or are the brake rotors warped, or is it a suspension issue?) Also, how well would the traction of the tires on these surfaces be. I’m going to assume that it would poor to near fatal except at very low speeds. Just another question… If solar panels need sunlight to function properly, how well will they do, if the sun can’t be seen due to the fact that the road will be covered with cars that are blocking the light from the panels? Country roads may not have a problem with it, but major cites and surrounding suburbs would be totally impractical. The only way to test this would be to pick a place to conduct a large scale test and put it under the daily stresses of a regular road and see how it holds up. I’m guessing that it may do fair to ok, but not as spectacular as most people think it will. Find a way to improve, and refine the idea to make it far more cost efficient and practical and see where it goes. That’s what science is all about, right? Trial and error?

  85. Danny Teo says:

    Yes, of all places, why on the road itself? Amazingly, they still gathered more than a million dollars for that!

  86. Storage Anyone says:

    With what little knowledge I have of solar power I question the power storage. Say in theory the solar panels are working and creating 3x the US power usage. What kind of batteries would be required to store any or all of this power? If there’s excess does it get bled off into the ground? There’s so many questions. A test trial is the only way I see this progressing.

  87. Anon says:

    Roads seem like literally the worst place possible to put solar panels. They are often covered by vehicles, those same vehicles will also smear junk all over them, and the panels have to be made incredibly robust to survive trucks driving over them, as well as have a textured surface to provide traction for the vehicles, both of which will reduce their effeciency compared to a solar panel put in somewhere else. Solar rodes seem like a solution in search of a problem that bring a half dozen more problems along in exchange. Every issue with solar roadways could be solved by putting the same solar panels on roofs, which provide a similar amount of un-utilized area, but don’t have to have cars all over them. I can’t see any good reasons to put solar panels on the road instead of on the roof, and I can see a lot of issues that don’t have easy or cheap solutions.

    • Connor says:

      You can see good reasons your just very bias.

      street sweepers clean the grime

      roof solar panels are ugly

      boom.

      • Bart says:

        “street sweepers clean the grime”

        Would you eat off the road in front of your house when the sweepers were finished? Maybe they use extra-special, shampooing and steam cleaning sweepers in your area. Here, it’s just a couple of big brushes.

      • Anon says:

        Being ugly is far from a good reason. It does nothing to outweigh the dozens of hurdles that need to be overcome to make solar roadways. Oh, and it’s an opinion. I don’t think the solar road hexes look any better than solar roofs do.
        Building solar roads instead of solar roofs adds a lot of problems while solving none, and will be less effecient to boot. No practical advantages. Many, many disadvantages. Again, why not just put them on roofs? Or even on coveringa above the road or parking lot.

  88. Gordon - Australia says:

    Well – from the HOME of solar power generation, I gave them USD$1,000.00.

    Things change, all the time.

    And if we “pooh pooh” every new idea that comes along we go absolutely nowhere.

    I invest in start ups – some work (spectacularly) and some don’t… I like this – let’s see where it goes shall we…

  89. jeff weber says:

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out. I agree there are problems. One I haven’t seen anyone talk about is plain ole vandalism. Someone taking a sledgehammer to the panels. However I suspect this project will start out small, maybe with a parking lot or two to test feasibility and workout seen and unforeseen problems, then expand to side streets if all works out. Pass or fail, it will be interesting to see how this works out and even if this doesn’t work, what ideas and tech it will inspire in the future

  90. KuhnKat says:

    Of course a more reasonable solution would be to COVER the roads with solar panels putting all the infrastructure above ground for easy access and less expensive installs and reducing precipitation on the road. This would also reduce wear on the panels, give them protection from road incidents, and even allow automated cleanings systems to work on the cells. The cells would not be heating the roadways saving energy and would be more efficient and last longer. Why oh why are the easy ideas, except for COST, IGNORED for pie in the sky stupidity?!?!?!

  91. An Electrical Engineer says:

    I 100% agree with the author. Its one of the most retarded ideas ever.

    Solar panels belong on roofs, not the road.

    Think about it – how often is the sun shining bright while its snowing. Umm, its not. How much power do you think it would take to power it to melt the snow? Errm, feckloads. this will consume power, not produce it.
    Solar panels have to point at the sun – max power at right angles. On the road, this will only happen at 12 noon in summer. In winter when the sun is low, it will not work at all.

    If no one is willing to pay for solar panels on roofs, they sure as shit will not pay for a solar road that will not work.
    Surely and secondary schooler can see this is a bad idea in so many ways.

    I’m an electrical engineer and have worked in hydro, wind and solar power and could go on why its so bad for so many more reasons, but for now, lets just say that I would love a renewable world, but there are many reasons why it is so difficult to achieve.

    • Shadow says:

      in Oregon,, the sun does shine while the snow falls.. not sure where your from,, but unless there is a bad snow storm,, usually there is sunlight whenever it snows here.. Shadow

  92. tabb says:

    This may not be practical in the near future… but then again the product I am typing this on wasnt thought possible twenty years, more computing capacity in an iphone than the computer that brought us to the moon. So instead of saying something is a scam or impossible or lacks credence, how about we applaud somone for thinking outside the box. Also if our way of doing roads is so good now, why are they in suck horrible shape.

  93. George A Pederson says:

    1) In 1961 we could hardly achieve orbit when it was declared by a non scientist/engineer that we WERE GOING to the moon. In one decade. We made it.

    Why did we make it? We made it to the moon because we decided we were going to go there and then solved all of the problems that prevented us. Many scientists and engineers said it could not be done. They were not employed to assist us in that undertaking. Only those that thought er could get there were employed to make it happen.

    2) Engineers with great credentials said it was safe to launch Challenger.

    I am going with Edison, Ford and the other backyard inventors who do things that can not be done

    • AuntSister53 says:

      Exactly what I have been thinking. I doubt we will ever have all of our roads solar paneled, but the idea is intriguing and could lead to some other very cool ideas. Limited uses of the idea might come from our exploration of how to implement it. Maybe it would only be used on steps or ramps at public buildings to keep the ice from forming; maybe we already have a technology that would do that better, but we didn’t think of using it that way. I think Mr. Pederson is right about the atmosphere of the 60s. And I would further point out that the materials that they used at the beginning of the space program were not the same ones they were using 20 years later when the shuttle was going up. THEY DEVELOPED NEW ONES along the way. It sounds to me like the solar panels we are using currently are like 1960 rocket technology, and the energy storage systems are probably the same. But the batteries that go into orbit for long term missions were surely developed for that specific purpose and no one is going to convince me that the right scientists working on these snags won’t be able to develop new products to correct these issues.
      All that being said, please don’t think I am an advocate of doing away with petroleum products, but I do want to see continued advances in the production and use of them. I like to see innovation and improvement in all areas. It is nice when products get faster, smaller, cheaper, more abundant, and cleaner. Everyone benefits.

    • Bart says:

      In 1961, rocketry and orbital mechanics had been firmly established, the calculations had been made, and it was known to be feasible. Just the opposite of this.

      Science is not magic, and the barriers to creating technology to do a particular job cannot always be breached, no matter how much effort is devoted to it.

  94. Nick Easton says:

    The nice thing about living nearly 60 years is that, one has a collection of past experiences and memories that one can use to calculate a more objective inference to such inventive possibilities as a future with solar roadways. I remember from the 70s all those negative nancys. They also used all their intellectual, logical, deductive reasoning to argue that the personal computer could never be a world changer. Those intellectuals of that time also under estimated the powerful influence of the common man. So, you negative Nancys beware.

    • Vulfie Munson says:

      Good Point!

    • Bart says:

      Oh, yeah? Then, where’s my Jetson’s style flying car? And, when is Pan Am going to start making regular flights to that space station with centrifugal-force artificial gravity from 2001? Where’s my BTTF hoverboard?

      The lesson: not every futuristic vision comes to fruition.

      • Shadow says:

        your flying car is now being used by fire and police in NewZealand.. look it up,, Shadow..

        • Shadow says:

          all those things you mentioned have already been built,, you just haven’t seen them yet.. I bet Mr. Branson has one of each in his private collections.. lola
          Shadow

  95. David says:

    It seems to me that your reasons for why we should not use this type of technology are quite flawed. What was your PHD in again? Your arguments as to why we should not be using these full of fallacies and show that you have done little or no real research on this subject; rather, you spout a disingenuous set of opinions as to why it will not work. That disappoints me.

    The overuse of hydrocarbons have caused massive changes in the overall health of our only home. Not only through their use, but through the massive infrastructure that it takes to support their use as well as through its extraction. Nuclear is not much better, Fukushima, Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and all the other incidents that have been under-reported should be enough response against that argument.

    Without research in the field of photovoltiacs, the industry for it cannot expand. Research for it cost money – as you should well know, supposedly being a scientist who did research himself – and without government grants, how much research will get done? Very little, most likely. With an utter choke-hold on the power industry, money from that sector is very unlikely.

    If this couple can put up a test area and it proves itself, what will be your argument then? Will it put too many poor Chinese folks out of work? Perhaps it would cause a slump in some oil company whose stocks you own? Perhaps we might have to cover up all that dirty messes that BP, Exxon, Shell and all the other purveyors of hydrocarbon fuels have created and that will be really, really expensive?

    I say, write a better article. Don’t just shoot off your mouth as if you were an angry child, write an article based on actual empirical evidence – evidence based on how this solution could be any worse than continuing to poison the planet and strip it of its resources, which all the “experts” keep saying is going to run out soon enough anyway, with valid scope and criticism of all processes. You know, like a real scientist? Perhaps then, I will show you some respect.

    • Chris says:

      photovoltaic panels are not and can never be a replacement for base load power. They cannot provide 24/7 power. Not every one wants business to run only when the sun shines and to use candles at night.

      • Shadow says:

        Chris,,
        I am really starting to dislike you,, I am only an electronics engineer,, and even I know,, the real problem with this is not the energy created,, but the storage of said energy reserves,, for free to the public,, not controlled by ‘the Big businesses’ that run our citizens into bankruptcy and poverty in this country.. make it free and usable by all,, and it will work itself out..
        Shadow

  96. bob says:

    Just would like to say two things. Electric cars just change the fossil fuel used, it does not eliminate the use of fossil fuels.

    The second thing is to the moron who said “demand lowers cost” lol omg demand raises cost you idiot!

    Anyway, the idea is great but I see more cost in maintaining solar road than what would be captured and those panels along with batteries just add to the toxic material that we have no good solution in disposing, at least not currently anyway

  97. John says:

    Ever heard of piezoelectricity? I sure @%^@&ing hope so you corporate bought wanna be engineer. Add the mechanism to the panels and you compensate for problem number 1 and 2: efficiency and stress.

    How do you keep them clean?MAKE ME LAUGH MORE. Have you ever seen those big trucks with sweepers under them run around towns? No? Oh you shut yourself into your room since you started your engineering degree, it’s ok.

    Who is going to pay? We are already paying a ridiculous amount for the standard pavement which keeps getting screwed by weather…oh yeah planned obsolescence I forgot about that, the answer to solve all the economic problems right? Must be why you got paid to throw that point out.

    Keep your opinions about the photograph to yourself, it also looks like a photo of your own you put there.

  98. NB says:

    Nice idea, might very well work on sidewalks and non-vehicular traffic areas, but as a retired heavy truck driver with over 30 years experience, and “from Missouri”, “show me” one of these road surfaces that will withstand the pounding that a stream of 80,000 pound trucks will give it. Not to mention the occasional heavy-haul 200,000 pound load…. And then there is “frost heave” in the northeast…and upper midwest. I’ve driven on roads that were smooth as glass in Sept, come January, the road will “heave” you to the moon. And by May, back to being smooth, except for the fissured surface of the tarmac, or cement aggregate surface where the “heave” was. But hey…I’m sure there are a lot of places this could work…

  99. Dennis says:

    there is a 600 pound gorilla in the room that is being ignored.

    Imaging a lake frozen over with a very thin sheet of ice. A woman in stiletto heels stomps her foot, and 100 pounds of energy is delivered to an area 1/4″ x 1/4″, or 1600 pounds of force per inch. If she doesn’t drown, she lays on the ice to distribute that 100 pounds over several square feet … or about 14 pound per square inch.

    This promo claims to have tested the surface at 200,000 pounds per square foot? Impossible. That pressure would destroy any substrate upon which the sample was mounted.

    So the next step is to consider a piece of wood 1″x1″ and 1/4″ thick, mounted in a steel bracket. It can support 100 pounds per square inch! ta da! … Then you build a bridge 1000 feet long, and 1/4″ thick of wood! Is that bridge going to support 100 pounds sitting on 1″x1″ in the center of the spa? nope. That 100 pounds is acting as the weight at the end of 2 500 foot long levers, and the shear strength of 50 pounds at a distance of 500 feet is 25000 pounds of shear at each end of the bridge.

    So claiming the material supported X pounds is meaningless, without the support data. Was the sample 1 foot square? Was the support substrate steel? How much weight can a 10 mile long strip of photocell/glass 6″ thick support? What kind of underlying surface must be built to actually bear the load, which is transmitted through the surface to the support surface underneath?

    Obviously, the designers are a bit shy discussing details like that … and for good reason.

    One last observation: we’ve all walked on a sidewalk covered with fozen dew … perhaps 1/10″ thick. Even though the cement under the ice sheen doesn’t crack, the surface layer is destroyed, fracturing all around the point of contact with your footsteps.

    How thick does this material have to be, on an actual roadway, to support heavy equipment? How WIDE and THICK does the underlying support roadway need to be?

    I suspect that the right of way would be extensive … so much the better for those who can make a fortune from the government using Eminent Domain to sieze all that extra right-of-way.

    One last question: the best sunlight is over desert. You know, the places where shifting sand dunes cover and uncover ancient cities all the time? How well will this work in an open area surrounded by sand? In the US, there is a massive problem in the SW keeping the roads clear of drifting dunes. With photocells, it only takes a fraction of an inch depth of sand, not a whole dune, to disrupt the operation of the photocells.

    But hey, you know what they say: everything works – in theory. Too bad it doesn’t work as well in practice.

  100. Robert L. says:

    I am just a common man, First, if we do use solar panels I am guessing we will be using solar cars? I am not sure but like all things it will evolve however you mentioned oil spots on the roadways, Why would you need oil in an electric car? For seals in areas needed, why not seal the grease tight. I know this is possible. I have read what about accidents, well again if this is all electric and I am guessing we will have an on-board computer in the auto that could sense were other autos are. It is already being used in Hong Kong at a shipping yard. NO accidents to date that I am aware of. I am thinking at first this concept needs to get a person from one point to another so it could be slower for the simple fact I can see there would be no need to drive, the auto could do this by itself giving the passenger time to say update his computer files while on his way to work/school/family outings or any other place for that matter.
    Now about the tires, OK here is one for the engineers, figure it out! But I know in Japan the bullet trains run above the surface.
    Again I am just a common man, but with time I think this would be a simple project, that is if I could borrow the right people that have some experience in several fields.

  101. Ing. Paar says:

    Hello!

    First of all, thank you for your work here. I like scientists who can proofe the truth!

    I’m an engineer working in Austria, for Street Construction,
    i can only ensure that this won’t work at all.

    Finance, Maintenance Costs, Torsion, Errosion, Energy loss in great scale, a lot of chemicals used to build the Panels, so they won’t be enviromental friendly.

    nice greetings from Austria

    • Ing. Paar says:

      Furthermore i am missing the Sub Construction details!
      Over what material the Panels are lying.

      Weve built a lot of concrete streets, the Fields are 2,5m to 10m, and are using complicated Anker-Systems, and continuos Joints. This Technology is in use scince ca. Jear 2000.
      The Costs are so great, that we can only build that in very crouded infrastructural cities.

      Excuse my bad English

  102. johan says:

    In holland we have a lot of bycicleroads and this year we”ll probably see our first solarroad. Some mayor company’s (TNO, Imtech, Structon) have been working to realise this plan in the town called Krommenie (NL)
    Don’t shoot a plan down by looking at the drawbacks, a real engeneer sees then as challenges.

    Kind regards
    Johan

  103. Connor says:

    1. The sun is powerful enough already so we don’t need to aim these things.

    2. These things are engineered to withstand weight. Did you watch the video?

    3. Ever heard of street sweepers?

    4. This won’t happen over night and judging by the money they will be saving, they’ll use that money to fund it.

    so simple.

    • Connor says:

      Also, if this goes on the stock market, people are going to want to fund it and make profit off this genius idea.

    • Bart says:

      1. Wrong. The area illuminated falls off as the sine of the elevation angle. Even at the equator in Spring, you don’t start getting 50% illumination until 8:00 AM, and you go back down to 50% by 4:00 PM. At higher latitudes… fuggedaboutit.

      2. Did you see Titanic? Or, The Matrix? Video is not reality.

      3. Yeah. They have a couple of dry brushes which sweep away dust. How does that help?

      4. It won’t happen, ever.

  104. I. Ronic says:

    “Solar Freaking Roadways” has a ring to it! You know it does!

    It doesn’t matter if it’ll really work. Think of the possibilities! It’s about having fun, getting fun politicians elected, getting government-secured loans for hundreds of millions, making viral videos that help us believe we have the answer to all the world’s problems, retiring in the Bahamas, and selling factories to investors from the far east.

    And when it fails, which of course it will, it’s about scapegoating our political adversaries for either making the idea fail, or for letting a silly idea happen to begin with, or better yet, both! And that is just fun fun fun!!!

  105. helen haigh says:

    im not the brightest cookie in the jar but your comment on the melting snow surely there would be a reservoir of energy to feed back to the required areas when needed and the water that would be produced would be gathered in the channel they mentioned

  106. Edward Bevan May says:

    Ah! If only they could be made of wood!

  107. Robert says:

    Come on guys ! This solar roadway is an ideea. About a new world. It is a start. It is not perhaps, ready for mass production and deployment. Nor the Wright brothers ideea was probably. But this is where the engineers and inventors of the near future, have to prove themselves and develop new materials and structures. We can talk about spending, but USA did not and will not thrive only by saving.

  108. Keilor says:

    It would be easier and cheaper to put the panels OVER the road. Then they would keep the rain off as well!

  109. kim says:

    Like usual you get the good thing and good idea and of course the bad comments against it.
    First of all why not work together to improve instead of bashing someone for thinking up a good idea.

    Here are your points

    1. You can’t point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency (which is only about 15% for photovoltaics, anyway, which makes PV generation expensive on a large scale).

    My response then only use it on the section of the road that have the most sun or gets the most benefit for the amount of sun. I have driven many and believe me there is lots of roads with sun.

    2. Why embed solar panels in such a harsh environment where they are constantly being run over and flexed by millions of tons of vehicles? There are many more practical locations to use (such as roofs, that face southward).

    My response because you can replace that one panel and still save the Green environment that we are trying to save. They are using roof tops but that is not enough and concrete to me is not that pretty so covering in these will give us more energy that concrete is not doing.

    3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?

    My response Okay this one is a good question and that is something to work on maybe even using recycled rain water or sewage water that is filtered with a form of a sprinkler system but yes there might be somethings that would need improving on.

    4. Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?

    My response in the beginning there might be a bit of a cost but the more people buy the lower the prices go that is the beauty of economy.

  110. Jason says:

    It does seem like a stupid idea but the way the video was made will convince simpletons that it’s possible. What happened to more sensible ideas like solar paint?

  111. B Colfer says:

    Is it a bad idea because you did’nt think of it, I think you’re jealous.

  112. Tes Slater says:

    Brilliant, but sadly I will not recover the time I spent reading this.
    I’m all for innovation and improving life but I see a few major flaws in this right from the start to the (possible) implementation and ongoing running.
    1. Firstly forget the figures on efficiency – they may in time be improved – but aren’t these things made of really rare stuff? When solar panels can be made from something like grass or leaves (photo-reactive) that’s the first hurdle sorted.
    2. Second, when you’ve got these amazing panels how will you transmit this energy from the gathering point to the power socket. Lots of wiring I guess, and that’s expensive in raw materials too – so maybe we could use sizal or linen string. OK let’s go with that solution. I’m liking this idea more and more.
    3. Billions of these cheap panels and their associated string connecting them to our homes and businesses would mean that they are a viable option HOWEVER why put them in/on the roads? I don’t get it, what’s wrong with rooftops.
    Maybe the marketing catch phrase wasn’t as commercially viable or you couldn’t show that the future could look like the movie Tron (1982). My problem isn’t the cars covering the panels but the need to have LEDs and heating elements.
    Has anyone thought about the light pollution and heat radiation (if that’s the right term) that these electric roadways would be kicking out of our planet. What damage would that cause?
    My advice – stick to putting them on roofs.

    Now go back to the experiments about solar roof panels and work on MAKING them out of something that sustainable and I’ll start considering them as something worth investing in.
    Off outside to catch some free energy from the sun.

  113. jmama says:

    Of course all the ideas that you nay – sayers have come up with are hard at work, saving the environment and helping to propel us out of this gas – hog, power hungry society and into a clean future, right? Right. Playing devils advocate is important but it feels like you are grasping at straws with your counterpoints (fox-news-style) since none of them would be an issue on smaller scale projects like one’s driveway or some Silicon Valley parking lot, which is what the inventor is currently calling for. Personally, I would consider using them for an outdoor recreation area. Baby steps–we don’t fly coast to coast in The Wright Flyer and we didn’t get where we are today by scraping every idea that wasn’t perfect from the start or had an overly enthusiastic inventor (who hired someone to make a crazy YouTube video for to advertise his pet project).

  114. pipp says:

    gel

  115. Alan says:

    It is refreshing to hear people with new ideas and whereas somebody who is an expert in this field is probably quite right in what he says, let’s support new ideas and look for ways to make new ideas work rather than finding reasons why they won’t. At the turn off the last century it would have been unthinkable we can fly half way round the world on one tank of fuel in less than a day or that we have been to the moon.

  116. james says:

    At best they would be great at Disney World. I’m not understanding how they would contour to curves, hills, and settling of roadways. Another stupid idea the government will embrace.

  117. cba says:

    Roy,

    One comment on the melting side. Solar panels are extremely low albedo, something like 0.02 so they absorb lots of heat in the sun – perhaps even more than asphalt. The electricity one gets from this is well under 10%. It probably has a battery in there too that can heat it up while not in the sunlight.

    I don’t even think that the gov. can come close to doing something like this other than as a useless futile gesture. There are evidently a few handfuls of people with enough damaged neural networks in their brains (druggies) who have forgotten they were saving their cash stash for a new purchase who might actually donate to it though.

  118. Dan a says:

    Must agree with Dr. spencer. The world will be much better if we never peruse new ideas, and perhaps spend our money developing portable lungs so we can live once we have destroyed the environment. And as for “wasting” dollars putting panels in roadways, the is dead right on that as well. I seriously doubt there are any roadways in America that feel the heat from the Southern sun. I am sure every interstate Hiway in the country was designed to face the north. Most actually face the north, south, east and west but likely only get sun from the north.
    Very good logic from a PhD – LMAO

  119. Mary says:

    Yes, on a massive scale it could never hold up at this point in our evolution. However, if it can work with driveways, patios, roofs, why would you call it a failure. Every parking lot could be used to do just exactly what they are promoting. Be part of the solution not the skeptic. You yourself said it has an excellent application. Then let’s start there and move forward. Technology always has skeptics. All those rich so called green millionaires can start by putting in a sidewalk or driveway and proving it. They can put their money where their mouth is. I wish them success. Why shouldn’t they get it through something that benefits the planet?

  120. Randy M says:

    What the author of the originating retort doesn’t tell you is that most of the solar panels installed are in fixed positions so they’re essentially operating in the same manner as panels fixed in roadways. The dirt comment is valid but instead of snow plows, you could have modified street sweepers to periodically clean roadways. In additon, regular old water, in the form of rain, is one of natures best solvents and would do a fine job of keeping the roads rinsed off and/or clean in places where rainfall is a regularly occurrence. Secondly, any of the oils and aromatics would drain down between the seams and could be properly collected for remediation whereas regular roadways leech their petroleum bases into the ground on either side of the roadways and contribute to environmental contamination. As to “less” heat being available to remove ice snow, I disagree. The solar roadways would be kept above freezing whereas regular roads in the heart of winter stay below freezing even with regular sunlight. They do a terrible job of melting off the snow and ice once covered in it. Lastly, the shear surface area of the solar roadways and their interlinking would provide more power overall. Other than when people are driving, it’s wasted space anyway. Sure, there are engineering hurdles but a true engineer would accept the challenge rather than poo-pooing it.

  121. tracy says:

    I love your idea. I really hope this project goes forward so we are able to realize and benefit from this. Thank you!

  122. Jason says:

    I am curious if these Solar panel roadways would be able to charge electric vehicles as they drive along as do some of these cell phone chargers by just placing the phone on them?
    Sorry if this was asked or mentioned as I have not read all the comments on this subject.

  123. Pat says:

    This smart road idea is facinating. I’m not all bought in yet as i see some valid downsides have been raised. Why not carve out a few miles of road in various parts of the country and test this idea for say, 5 years or so. We should have most of the answers by then – and put and end to speculation.

    Pat

  124. Diarmaid says:

    I find it funny that some people say the cost is too much.
    What about the “cost” of destroying our environment and eventually our planet, isn’t that the ultimate “cost”

    We can do anything when we put enough minds to it, we have learned that over and over again.

  125. Diarmaid says:

    And to add, it could be done in stages. Parking areas first, then footpaths and then roads.

  126. George says:

    Roy,

    A few questions

    What would be wrong with doing this is the rural areas of our Interstates? For example, New Mexico? Last I checked it doesn’t snow much, they get sun 300+ days a year and very light roadway traffic?

    You seem to want to focus on the roads in NYC with heavy traffic, oil drips, snow and not a lot of sun?

    What about allowing private investors the ability to pay for portions of a road and then be able to sell the energy? Have a million to invest? How about a 10 mile strip on I-25 in New Mexico. The rate of return might be better than 10%.

    That might not save consumers a ton of $, but it would be better for the environment and may lessen our dependency of foreign oil.

    I am not saying this idea will save the world, but it would seem that practical applications are possible.

    • Steven R says:

      Roy,

      Better idea, just put the panels in the I-25 right-of-way, but not on the road itself! Along the sides, in the median, etc.

      It would:

      * Be cheaper, because you don’t have to build the panels to drive on.

      * Be more efficient, because that thick, textured glass will reduce the sun that actually hits the PV cells.

      * Be more efficient because the cells could be inclined toward the sun, instead of flat.

      * Require less maintenance because an inclined surface collects less dust and is somewhat self-cleaning when it rains.

      * Not require shutting down the roadway to build.

      * Use solar panels that are ALREADY in mass production

  127. Steven R says:

    Another problem is the claim of using the solar power to melt the snow. Has anyone done the calculations on that? I did. The power collected is not even close to enough to melt the snow. I used the NREL solar radiation maps, for the northern states in December or January, based on a flat (not inclined) solar cell. I used the data from the 18.5% efficient panels mentioned on the solar roadways web page. And I assumed the snow is 8% water (on the dry side, 10% is typical).

    The result: It would take OVER 90 DAYS, for the panel to collect enough power to melt just 8″ of snow !! Since 8″ of snow commonly falls in 8-12 hours, the panels will never be able to melt the snow as fast as it falls.

    My calculation was overly generous to “solar roadways” because:

    * The thick, textured glass would reduce the sun getting to the PV cells, but I didn’t reduce the 18.5% efficiency. That’s because they didn’t publish how much less electricity they get compared to clear, thin glass.

    * I didn’t calculate how much heat is required to keep the glass surface above freezing (just because that takes longer). In reality, you have to provide enough heat to keep the glass warm AND melt the snow for this to work.

    * I didn’t calculate how much electricity would be lost by storing the electricity in a battery and then powering the heater from the battery at night. Since, you know, it DOES snow at night. So you could only melt night-time snow if you stored electricity from previous sunny days in a battery.

    Bottom line, the inventors are claiming credibility as “ENGINEERS”. But they didn’t DO THE MATH!!

    I’m an engineer and I work with many more. Many of us are lazy and we only want to do the math that supports our idea, not the math that might refute our idea.

    • Diarmaid says:

      I guess energy from other sources could be used to melt in certain locations and thus increasing the energy created from that location once the snow has melted.
      The idea as a whole is fantastic, with enough minds working on it anything is possible.

      • Steven R says:

        Diarmid,

        I think you’re not understanding the scale of the snow melt problem. The power required to melt the snow is not just a little bit more than the panels generate. It’s 10 – 20 times more!

        So, for example, in Minneapolis we get ~ 40 inches of snow per year. So let’s say you use energy from “other sources” — say wind energy — to melt the snow that falls on the roads in the winter. At the end of the year, you’d have dumped much more wind power into melting snow than the solar panels can collect ALL YEAR LONG ! So why would you even bother with the solar panels?

        If you want more PV solar, let’s start with rooftops! It makes much more sense.

        • Bart says:

          “The power required to melt the snow is not just a little bit more than the panels generate. It’s 10 – 20 times more!”

          I am despairing of this list. People posting can’t even seem to grasp something as simple as this. They want so desperately to believe, and they have imbued science with the power of magic. All it takes is getting a bunch of people to think about it real hard, and we can perform supernatural feats. Aye yi yi…

  128. warzone says:

    including the flaws supporting the ‘why this is a bad idea’ -where can this concept fit in? with all the whistle blowing on the internet can you put your head around a better solution….or just whistle blowing? lets hear some real ideas also, things like this come out a dime a dozen. misfits maybe and ill practical use might be the first step? is that where these concepts stop or can flaws also be redirected into a use? your no better roy spencer-phd?

    • Diarmaid says:

      Start with parking, footpaths and roof tops

    • Diarmaid says:

      Obviously these areas would be zoned first. There is no point in having solar panels in areas surrounded by high buildings for example.

      The good think about this idea is we already spend a lot on maintaining out roads, footpaths and parking areas so it would just be a major change to that not requiring other land to destroy.

  129. you must be just an engineer….you have no foresight

  130. jan says:

    Wow. I wondered about the cost and the replacement, then you brought up the cleaning aspect and the weight allowed. Maybe good to try in a very small town. You know a one stoplight type. They should do that…out of their own funds. And show us how it will, or won’t work.

  131. paul_johny says:

    It is a idea. Good concept..Yes there are loop holes..But future there can be such technology ..All those criticism you do can be solved.as time passes by ..There will be new methods developed to achive the goal

  132. Nick says:

    All you unintelligent dipwads who think this is such a great invention, please feel free to contribute all your savings to the cause.

  133. JPGR says:

    Dr. Roy Spencer – I put you in the category of the old curmudgeon that is angry at technology because it’s new and scary. Sure there are problems with idea, there are problems with all ideas but not to do anything because it’s not perfect to start is just stupid. As for the questions you asked in your post it seems you have done the least amount of research possible before publishing your post. Check out the FAQ http://solarroadways.com/faq.shtml it will give you some of the answers to questions you brought up.

    • Steven R says:

      JPGR, Fortunately this is not a question of “Solar Roadways or Nothing” — that’s a false dilemma.

      There are simply many, many, better places to put solar panels that are more cost effective, more efficient, require less maintenance, etc.

      Once we fill up ALL the rooftops, awnings, highway medians and rights-of-way with PV solar, then it might make sense to start looking at parking lots.

      Let’s start with the BEST ideas, and not throw good resources after not-so-good ideas, just because they look like TRON.

      • i worked in the solar industry prototyping solar installments and can easily agree with that these concepts get extremely inflated with hope-false hope? solar is a small entity in the green industry. proper angling and positioning are different across the globe and at will can produce energy only in the peek moment of a day or rather they draw less energy when covered or dirty….i don’t want to spend the kind of funding it would take to lay a solar brick wall on it side and call it and inner city road or what ever? i don’t believe these are human inventions however, more human discovery. the human error shows it teeth when a discovery is misdirected

      • JPGR says:

        Steven R – Honestly I don’t know enough to argue the point one way or the other on the placement of panels. My response was a poor attempt to vent my frustration with the authors negative response to this technology with what seemed to be very little research into it.

        I do like the overall idea of having a roadway that has the ability to change and inform drivers of impending hazards as well as keeping roads clear of ice and snow. How that road gets the power to do that is, again, something that I don’t have to knowledge to speak to.

  134. mark says:

    the truth is we have about 1000 years worth oil under the rocky mtns. i dont want to drive one of your sissy cars so take your global warming tree huging ideas to some other country and leave mine alone, a hundred years from know no one is going to give a shit you were ever alive how about we all live for the now the planet will take care of its self like it has for billions of years you think your little attempt at helping the human race is somehow going to save it well history says your wrong just ask the dinos. dumb asses.

    • gee whiz thanks mark…you added so much. your already a dinosaur

    • Jeff Spinoza says:

      Author states:
      ‘the above photo really has me suspicious. The photo supposedly shows the “active” portion of a solar parking lot melting snow. Say WHAT?….here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. A dark surface heated by the sun converts essentially all of the absorbed sunlight into heat energy…which is what is needed to melt snow. If you instead siphon off some of the absorbed solar energy in the form of electricity, there is actually LESS heat energy to melt snow!’

      The point of the snow melting picture is not to suggest that solar roads convert sunlight into heat more efficiently than conventional roads. The point is to show that solar roads are a technologically advanced component of the electrical grid and can actively use electricity to produce enough heat to melt ice, thus obviating the use of car damaging salts on roadways. Solar roadways can generate electricity year-round, which can then be fed into the general grid while the weather is warm and there is no ice to be melted. After solar roadways are installed, the energy generated year-round will be more than enough to make up for the energy used to melt the snow during the winter months. It’s the same concept as putting solar panels on your roof. During the night you are using more electricity than you are producing, but this loss is made up for by the surplus energy produced during the day. Or if you prefer, we can use simple mathematical terms:

      E1 > E2

      Where E1 is energy produced by solar roadways during a year and E2 is the energy used to melt ice in the winter. We could even add into this mix the energy used to light-up the roads with traffic markers and such (E3), and I’m confident that we would still see a net gain every year:

      E1 > E2 + E3

      I know, the validity of the above inequalities depends upon the relative values of E1, E2, and E3 on a given year, but it is not my intention to give an exact numerical estimation of the total energy gained every year, rather I just wanted to put the alleged “inefficiency” of solar panels into perspective. Though it may be true that solar roads cannot produce as much heat energy as blacktops on a sunny day, this is of little importance here, because currently we have no practical means of capturing the heat energy produced by blacktops. On the other hand, solar roads convert the suns rays into electricity, which is fed into the grid and put to good uses. One of these uses is to melt ice and snow, eliminating our winter roadway worries. There is nothing fishy about this picture.

      • Shadow says:

        I don’t have a problem with the concept of energy creation,,
        my problem,, especially here in Oregon, is the runoff after the thaw,, it is more than we can handle now,, what would it be like if we had none.. floods everywhere,, and dams bursting all the time.. not good idea for ‘our’ roads..
        like the early warning thing, and the ground-effects vehicles,, and even the road effects ideas.. but the disasters that the runoff would cause here.. not good… but,,
        the parking lots, sidewalks, parks, and driveways.. like it,, fits well with my design of VEU tech… free electricity to everyone,, that is the wave of the future,, as long as we can keep government and big business out of it.. sounds great.. Shadow

  135. El Hombre Mas Interesante En El Mundo says:

    Has anyone considered what would happen when heavy breaking becomes necessary on a glass surface?

  136. Beth Corbin says:

    The first commercial VCR cost more than $1,000, you can now purchase a blue-ray DVD for less than $100. All new ideas are expensive at first, but once there is buy-in by the public, and demand increases, costs come down dramatically. Image what this would cost now if we had started production in the 1990s. I can see far more reasons to pursue this than reasons not to. It could create new jobs building the panels, covert current jobs from road repair to road installation and cleaning, computer programers, and the list could go on. It’s past time for a change from coal, oil and gas.

  137. Wai Hoong Yee says:

    I like this idea. Shame it’s not going to happen for a long long while. They say the worst aspect of this technology is the cost in production. Though production costs would be lower if we spent more effort on refining the methods instead of digging randomly for more melted dinosaurs. The physical weaknesses and design flaws that many “smart” folk point out would also be overcome if they would just help identify a solution instead shouting the obvious. It seems to me that 2 people have made a good start to something great. I hope more people join in.

    There are other concepts out there though http://www.studioroosegaarde.net/project/smart-highway/

    Perhaps this may be a more realistic approach. Reducing our use of electricity is as good as producing ridiculous amounts for the sake of consuming it.

  138. Warlock says:

    These might be a great idea down the road, but right now, we need to concentrate on getting solar panels on every roof.

    I have been reading the complaints, but I think these solar roadways will work as long as we can keep their cost under $1000 per kilowatt of peak power production. That is the effective cost for me to put solar panels on my roof.

  139. Ben says:

    I am an engineer and the first thing that comes to mind is there is a big safety issue. Smooth transparent engineering polymer won’t grip a rubber tyre like asphalt does.

    If a product causes fatalities, that’s a big problem.

    • El Hombre Mas Interesante En El Mundo says:

      Yep…you gotta love how people are conveniently avoiding this. But it totally invalidates the solar roadway.

      • Shadow says:

        uhm,, why does it have to be glass,, why not resin/rosin graphite composite.. just a thought..
        we have this material being made of old shredded tires already in Oregon,, we use it for our driveways and tennis courts now.. it could be modified,, and
        why electrical wiring or even electronic components,, when we have the technology for so much more efficient materials that are cheaper and easier to produce..
        graphite is amazing material when combined with other products.. not saying the oil company’s would still get rich, they would,, but not on polluting gases in our vehicles.. just on the materials that we use in everyday lives.. this is a good idea,, just not in certain parts of the country and our highways..
        Shadow

  140. Joe says:

    Only cheaply manufactured solar panels made for the consumer market require orientation to the sun. High quality cells are more than 80% efficient on an overcast day, and continue to create voltaic potential even during twilight or sundown. Any logistical concerns regarding service life and adverse scenarios equate to two things: Jobs, and energy abundance. Take the KW required to make a solar unit and compare it to the energy collected over it’s service life…there is no contest. Having a PHD means that a person has received an education. What a person can do with an education varies substantially. It does not equate to intellectual performance or expertise on it’s own merit as an academic credential. It’s as arbitrary as an IQ test. There are people living in the swamps of the south or the Appalachian mountains who would perform quite poorly when evaluated by these criteria. But make no mistake, in a hypothetical scenario where you are competitively pitted against them, their strategic prowess may astonish you. Their magnanimity would humble you. Anybody crapping on this solar roadway idea is a boorish naysayer who is failing to rise to the mediocre technical challenges this system is asking of us.

  141. good point ben….i kind of don’t want to think of that level of polymer production? can we phase out automobiles?

  142. Chris says:

    You know 5 years ago I would have agreed with this article.

    No, it’s not the most efficient method to collect solar energy; however it is a method. And every little bit helps, especially since these are made out of mostly recycled materials.

    That being said, solar is only one aspect of these. They also can provide better warnings. Lanes can be reconfigured during rush hour or during other events. The list goes on and on. If you live in a high traffic area or somewhere that dangers om the road are common place, these items alone are worth it.

    Let’s not forget about being able to reduce the number of street lights, thus reducing light polution.

    How will they get cleaned? Well rain is one answer, another is most cities do street sweeping now, a few minor tweaks and this can be used to clean these panels.

    Who will pay for it? Well, it’s ultimately a self paying proposition. Cities can either save money on their utility bills by generating the solar panel or be able to generate more electricity cheaper if they are a city with their own power plant.

    There are already some cities that have installed similar systems and they are working, this just builds on what those cities have done.

    Again, it’s not going to solve every problem in the world and no one should pretend that it will, but it will help.

  143. Sheila says:

    I think this is an interesting idea. I would like to know more. As an engineer, it would be easy to identify many potential issues, however I have seen many things in a fairly long career which have looked overwhelmingly difficult actually come to fruition.

    When I was a kid to make a phone call I had to pick up the big black phone handset and tell the operator who to connect me with. Now I push a button on a small battery powered handheld device and have access to information, entertainment, can make financial transactions, and can make a call to people whether they are at home or on the go.

    Even if this is not at the present time a generally applicable technology due to the durability required for heavy use highways, there are many places where the advantages may outweigh the disadvantages.
    I’d rather look for ways around the difficulties than dismiss the ideas.

  144. Solaris daWay says:

    You fuckin brain is probably being fed ( and funded) by the morons that can’t add! Your a small mind idiot that’s has no bearing on what the hell your even talking or blogging about! I guess people like you just need to bitch and moan about something.
    To your stupid points:
    1: Yes the roads all go in different directions but the sun hits the at some point…

    2: If you even bothered to do the research they are made to withstand autos driving on them, moron!

    3: The roads cost money…but do they return any money….NO! Idiot!

    4 A program like this would work fine but it has to be on a large scale. ( unless morons like you keep blogging bullshit misinformation)

    Go crawl back into your hole with you FB and stfu!

  145. Steven Goering says:

    For those of you reading this and actually buying into Dr. Spenser’s negativity:

    Take a look at the FAQ http://solarroadways.com/faq.shtml and decide for yourself.

    On a side note, wouldn’t it be amazing if they could somehow integrate Google’s self-driving technology into these Solar FREAKING Roadways?!

    Just a thought.

    • Victor Reynauld says:

      Let me translate your hilarious post: “Don’t buy the negativity with actual discussions about engineering and costs, buy the company’s PR bullshit instead!”

      • Drew Woodley says:

        OK, sure but where exactly are the engineering issues? And since when do we take engineering problems and not turn them into challenges to overcome. Consider what it took to go to the moon, or build the Panama Canal.

    • Drew Woodley says:

      Exactly my point. Why not ask, “How much more awesome could we make this?”

  146. Ed Miller says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer, I will try to keep this short. I am not a climatologist, but I did pretend to be a Nuclear Reactor Operator in the Navy. We had extensive training on Thermodynamics and study of “evil” radiation. What I have yet to figure out is how to argue the whole melting of the glaciers issue. I personally and of the uninformed opinion is it is due to natural cycles way beyond our understanding and control. What do you say to those that point to this as evidence of Global warming. Thank you for your time. Respectfully, Edward Miller

  147. Andrea G says:

    Don’t be so harsh. As with all new technology it will need to be tweaked. It’s a really good concept that needs to be looked at and advanced. Jeez, such haters – you people are ridiculous!!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Roadways#Feasibility_concerns

  148. Drew Woodley says:

    1. True, you can’t optimize the collection angle. But roads pretty much all point up. A single panel taken as a closed system would indeed fail to be able to produce enough energy to justify it. A large scale network of them, spread over many latitudes is a different story.

    2. A harsh environment for sure, but apparently designed specifically for this purpose. With the added benefit of being lighted, allowing for the placement of safety messages, lane marking, etc. coupled with the fact that roadways are otherwise just dead space, AND the ability to replace panels as needed, the argument in favor seems to outweigh your argument against.

    3. Right, road grime, dust, oil and other contaminates would make the panels dirty. If only there were a device that could be used to clean them, perhaps attached to a vehicle specifically purposed for that. (PLEASE tell me that the sarcasm is not lost here.) By the way, how do you clean the panels on your roof or on telephone poles or in large array fields?

    4. Who paid for the Interstate system (which is in SERIOUS need of updating)? Let’s consider the better question, “Who benefits from this?”

    As for your thermodynamics lesson, well yeah, sort of, at least in a vacuum. First off, a dark surface like blacktop can only store a finite amount of energy. Secondly, that surface begins to radiate the energy away immediately so even while the sun is out, the energy is escaping. When it has snowed around me, the clouds were covering the sun, greatly reducing the energy available to the dark surface. And lastly, you are treating an individual panel as a closed system whereas the entire design of it is intended to be a network, which could divert energy from areas that have it to areas that need it.

    For myself, I’m thinking of where we could start production; where can I set up manufacturing here in the US that has an available workforce, cheap buildings, infrastructure in place that could get materials in and out, what environmental concerns would there be.

    Questions are indeed good, but nay-saying is not. If what you have come up with here is the extent of the argument against this idea, then there is no reason to not support it 100%, even for you. You haven’t even come up with any real engineering issues that will likely be faced. We should be looking at it and asking “What are they not thinking big enough on?” and take the project to even the next level beyond. Broaden your mind; this is what Americans are best at.

  149. Ashton says:

    Furthermore, the above photo really has me suspicious. The photo supposedly shows the “active” portion of a solar parking lot melting snow. Say WHAT?….here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. A dark surface heated by the sun converts essentially all of the absorbed sunlight into heat energy…which is what is needed to melt snow. If you instead siphon off some of the absorbed solar energy in the form of electricity, there is actually LESS heat energy to melt snow!
    …ummm how do heated driveways work?

  150. Dillon R says:

    Okay so i would just like to start this off by saying, NO i am not a college graduate or an engineer, but I Do believe this would be a good idea. The first thing for argument was that you are unable to turn the road ways to catch the rays of the sun. Well in my life i have done construction work and i have done quite a few concrete and even asphalt(sidewalks, driveways and even roads) well the way you poor is at a slight decline angle where the road meets at a very slight point(so rain runs off) have you ever bent down and touched an asphalt road, especially in the summer time? That road is extremely hot even at its very slight angle so the turning would in term not be needed. As for them getting dirty by oil and the amount of traffic passing by, yes this would poss a problem, But no more of a problem then having to repair the roads that are damaged EVERY YEAR, AND The amount of natural resources this project would save and cut out once it is underway and done besides this would be one of those opportunities to create jobs! Have a state unionized group that cleans these road ways, another to repair them if they are damaged. The amount of money these panels would bring in could be very substantial to making the economy far better then it is. And As a taxpayer sense the age of 15 i would not mind contributing to something that could help better our world, and improve our way of living for generations! If we really need more money to put towards it then how about we cut the congressman’s annual amounts down a few hundred thousand bucks each! BUT thats a different topic; the next thing you argue is the heating and melting of the snow, you say that if its being used to produce electricity as well as heat the panel to melt the snow it would not be hot enough? well let me ask you this have you ever used an electric heater? Same concept. the amount of electricity needed to keep them ice free and at the right temperature, the remaining electricity is sent were need be, and if there are enough panels, we would still have enough electricity, AND the water that comes from the snow it is melting would be transported which could pass through wheels in the tunnel using the waters current to produce hydro-electricity! So That extra amount of electricity could easily make up for the spent electricity used to melt the snow in the first place.
    These are the first thing i have seen in my life that i feel would actually benefit our chaotic and money hungry world. The possibilities with this invention are endless and very rewarding; this. This is my opinion.
    Sincerely; A 19 year old named Dillon.

    • Shadow says:

      Dillion,,
      I like your runoff idea,,
      if controlled, could be a viable solution to that problem,,
      Shadow.. thanks for the thoughts.

  151. Alex Noll says:

    The first two of your concerns have already been addressed. The solar panels were tested in the northern united states in the dead of Winter–absolutely awful conditions–and they exceeded expectations. Additionally, the material that they are to be constructed from, or at least the outer surface, exceeds United States Roadway Commission standards. It will not break from wear. These are not “just” solar panels. They are complex modular devices that shield solar panels and include devices such as LED lights and heating functions. It’s not like we’ll be drving on solar roof tiles.

  152. Terri says:

    This does work. The Savannah River Site in SC has had them in pockets of highway through the site for power for years. The site is many hundreds of thousands of acres and is like its own city within itself.

  153. Mikey B says:

    Your rant was respectable until you mentioned the picture.

    My explanation is simple. How can that picture possibly make you suspicious? Sure, when the sun reflects on a dark surface, it creates heat, but do you not realize that the panels were covered in snow? Thus, no sunlight could get to the dark-colored panel to create the heat needed to melt the snow. That is why the one row is melted, one is not– the melted row used it’s heating element to melt the snow. If it did not, the snow would gradually have been melted by the sun, nothing to do with the panel beneath it.

  154. Chris W says:

    I can actually see some use for this product. It would be a great product for Disney or in Las Vegas. I could envision the Main Street Electrical parade going along a cool lighted street, or even downtown Las Vegas replacing the walkways into this for a stunning show.

  155. Mark Dixon says:

    Clearly, you did not watch any of the main promotional video or related videos. All of your concerns are addressed. And the money they are looking for is to go towards further development to see just how well they work. This is how ideas become reality. Development, test, develop more, test more, repeat as necessary. If you are going to criticize, at least do so after availing yourself of the available data first. Otherwise, you have all the credibility of the average YouTube poster.

  156. simple says:

    It works, is used in places that otherwise maybe inaccessible,its holistic intelligence, compounding, infinite,while the self professed intellect argue the entrepreneurs get on and make positive change.It will happen but YOU may just not be awake enough to work it out, too busy proving how much of an Ex-spert you think you are LOL. It will prove itself. SIMple

  157. IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

    I love the idea but being scientifically inclined the first thing that happened was my brain immediately started looking for reasons why it wouldn’t work as advertised.
    There seem to be a few main ideas that are repeatedly and alternately endorsed or rejected.

    1.) Expensive & Impractical
    Is that REALLY a concern with emerging technology?
    At some price-point practicality of development finds a sustainable investment/input level to proceed with future development and refinement. $100 Billion too rich for your blood? Ok, start at $10 Million, which is latrine cleaning money for highway departments these days.

    My point being that somewhere, at some investment level, an entirely practical and do-able technology under present scientific levels of achievement CAN be driven to find refinements and ways to apply the technology so as to both improve the quality of life on this planet and be affordable.

    At some point in time it will find it’s own equilibrium point in the cost v benefit curve to continue and develop further. As the technology improves, so will the applications and infiltration into the infrastructure, be it 1 year or 100.
    We’re hoping we and our progeny will be around long enough to see that day, but polluting the atmosphere and groundwater with petrochemicals is already a proven death spiral failure as far as sustainability goes.

    Every household didn’t own a VCR immediately but most of us eventually progressed to owning one, then converted to DVD players and on to Blu-Ray – but it STARTED with a VCR, a very expensive crappy Betamax one at that. Some of us even spent a wad of loot on the laser-disc, which didn’t go anywhere – but in a strange twist of fate evolved into the DVD and Blu-Ray systems we eventually ended up with when magnetic tape was surpassed by the digital technology advances that the laser-disc & CD disc began.
    You NURTURE ideas, you don’t throw them out with the baby in it just because it isn’t 100% commercially feasible at present. You invest in the baby and hopefully one day it becomes a brilliant science engineer and not some gangstah criminal armed with nuclear weapons and a very bad attitude because it had to grow up on the streets without loving parents to raise it to maturity.

    2.) Efficiency
    As has been repeatedly addressed, not all solar cells are created equal. Some are more efficient than others and some involve rare-earths that are scarce and expensive.
    A reasonable engagement debate arises as to WHICH solar cell type will win the race, and like the laser-disc leading to digital mediums in our home, the rare-earths may not be ideal today but tomorrow someone may hit upon a specific material for their construction that is both not scarce and practical while having an efficiency level that provides for an economically SUSTAINABLE infrastructure using solar in the ways envisioned.
    Should we wait until that material is developed or should we go ahead with lesser-desireable alternatives that already exist as the nucleus of the soon-to-be solar infrastructure and replace the elements as improvements come available?

    With foresight and good planning, the retrofitting SHOULD be a snap and the new materials should be designable so that they can be inserted into the already existing infrastructure without major disruption or massive changes to the way we continue to build it up.
    How long did the old 2 prong outlet serve our households before some not-yet-born genius thought of the idea of adding a 3rd ground pin to the old 2 prong plug? Did the world end because we couldn’t adapt to 3 prong power plugs? Did they cause a massive disruption to the existing wiring of households and businesses? Solar roadways – plug & play. It’s not like we’ll have to immediately scrap every old infrastructure panel just because a better solar mousetrap comes along.
    (PS: I still own & use 5 VCRs, even though I also have a massive DVD collection.)

    3.) Cleaning, repair, maintenance, obsolescence, & impractical usages.
    The perfect CANNOT be the enemy of the possible, or we’ll all die waiting for perfection to be achieved.
    While the inventors gave us a jump-off point, the next researchers may find better compounds, surface textures and coatings, designs for cleaning and maintenance, and perhaps even ancillary radical design changes to the USERS of the new solar roads, (trucks and cars). Perhaps we convert to electric cars and no longer have nearly as much spilled oil and grease to clean off the solar roads. Perhaps tire manufacturers find compounds with longer-wear characteristics and better traction/stopping ability for use on glassed solar roadway surfaces.

    Perhaps the melt and runoff water that goes into the drainage system can be recharged as the very water used to spray off the road and clean the cells themselves, using locally available collected water and electricity to power the sprayer system incorporated into the entire system. No need, even, for street sweepers at all – but somebody still has to clean the particle filters used to get cleaned water back into the sprayer system periodically – unless that gets automated and rinsed by the system into an external drainage ditch filled with greenery too.
    It beats the snot out of the current runoff system that creates erosion and destroys the landscape it floods because rain can’t penetrate concrete highways. Such a system would actually CONSERVE water and add to the already diminishing aquifers we are currently draining down because we waste so much of the rain water nature so brilliantly supplies us and we so stupidly ignore as a resource and let run away into places it’s doing more harm than good in.

    Is it complicated, prone to breakdowns, & requiring more labor to maintain? Probably, but that’s why the gawds invented cheap illegal immigrant labor in the first place.
    (Please, PC people go away, it was a joke.)
    Every evolution in technology requires people to change occupations as their old jobs go away and new ones arise. That’s one reason we invented the schools to begin with, to train or re-train people to do new jobs.
    I’d much rather have my children training to replace solar roadway water filters & fix clogged spray nozzles than mopping up catastrophic oil spills all along the Gulf coast and Arctic shorelines – or digging coal out of the insides of mountains in West Virginia after some coal company blows the top off another mountain and destroys another dozen streams & rivers.

    4.) Lack of available solar power production because of a less-than-desirable angle of incidence for collectors makes such a project economically infeasible.
    So we only get 80% efficiency, or even 45% efficiency because horizontally mounted cells can’t make the optimum use of available radiation?
    (Which conveniently & ENTIRELY ignores the very practical installation of continuous solar arrays along 4-lane median strip dividers – AT the proper incidence angle and using ZERO extra space that’s already devoted to things like greenery and lighting and not much else, if it’s not just fugly old concrete barrier blocks – that would ADD extra generating capacity per mile along any such infrastructure installation.)
    It still beats the crap out of the ZERO percent energy collection of asphalt and concrete.

    If anyone has seen an interstate highway being constructed, or re-constructed after about 20-25 years of use, (solar cell life-expectancy as well, oddly coincidentally), they are well aware of how long it actually takes to get it done.
    Forget all summer, it usually takes all spring, all summer, and well into the freezing cold early winter before they pack up the bulldozers and grade-layers of asphalt/concrete – all to re-do a 10 mile stretch of highway.
    There is no possible way on earth it takes any longer to pull up damaged tiles and replace them over a similar 10 mile stretch of solar roadway – even if you factor in the original preparation of the roadbed under such a solar roadway construction initially.

    Don’t EVEN get me started on the cost of interstate highway building in the first place.
    From a 2003 study and converted to 2006 dollars.
    http://www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/policy/07-29-2008%20Generic%20Response%20to%20Cost%20per%20Lane%20Mile%20for%20widening%20and%20new%20construction.pdf

    Separate cost factors are used for urban and rural areas.
    In urban areas, widening costs are further disaggregated by the type of roadway (freeways, other divided highways, and undivided roads), and vary from $2.4 million to $6.9 million per lane-mile.
    In rural areas, costs depend upon highway functional class (Interstates, arterial roads, and collectors) and terrain type, and range from $1.6 million to $3.1 million per lane-mile.
    The model also assumes higher construction costs in areas where widening might be especially difficult or costly, such as densely developed urban areas or environmentally sensitive rural areas. These are termed “high cost lanes” and can range from $7.3 million to $15.4 million per lane-mile for construction in urban areas to $5.8 million to $9.9 million per lane-mile in rural areas.

    The cost to construct one lane-mile of a typical 4-lane divided highway can range from $3.1 million to $9.1 million per lane-mile in rural areas depending on terrain type and $4.9 million to $19.5 million in urban areas depending on population size.
    However, in urban areas restrictions (high cost of additional right-of-way, major utility relocation, high volume traffic control, evening work restrictions, etc.) may increase the cost per lane-mile.
    If restrictions exist the cost to construct one lane-mile of a 4-lane divided highway can range from $16.8 million to $74.7 million. The cost of $74.7 million per-lane-mile in areas of severe restrictions may not represent the maximum cost per-lane-mile and should be used as general guideline only. Individual projects may include extreme conditions warranting a much higher cost.

    Worst case scenario – AS MUCH OR MORE THAN SEVENTY FOUR POINT SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS PER LANE-MILE!
    $74.7M X 4 lanes = almost THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS for a single 1 mile stretch of urban 4-lane highway!!!!!!!!!
    And it doesn’t generate one single milliwatt of power along the entire 1 mile stretch.
    You can becher sweet arse it cost as much or more to maintain it over it’s 20-25 year expected asphalt/concrete lifespan too!
    And I see people whining about misuse of tax dollars for this solar roadway project?
    The gas, oil, and automobile industries thank you for your generous tax-dollar welfare checks that enable them to make tens of BILLIONS of dollars in profits each year off products they manufacture to be used on those TAX DOLLAR supported subsidized infrastructures.
    I wonder how many solar roadway panels could be built, & tested, in an urban environment, for $340M IN 2014 DOLLARS?

    5.) One size fits all – NOT!
    There’s no reason on Earth that this has to be the right technology for EVERY roadway – yet that is the EXACT fallacious ASSUMPTION I have seen in every counter-argument made so far on this page.
    Not one anti-respondent has bothered to stop and explore the idea of “situational awareness”, whereby only those roadways that are the more practical and economically feasible ones would even get such a solar roadway treatment, while the good old-fashioned concrete and asphalt roads we use now continue to serve where solar ones would not.
    As the technology improves, additional roads would be converted, until at some future point we drive on more solar roadways than not.
    The interstate highway system didn’t completely obviate the need for 2-lane state roads, county highways, or city streets – nor did it eliminate our driveways, parking lots, & sidewalks.

    Nor is there a validity in the “stochastic” power storage argument, (whatever a “stochastic” is or does.)
    The current power grid is bi-directional. When power is needed in the west, power flows to the west and is drawn from surplus in the east, for example. When power is needed in the east, power flows from excess capacity to the west to the east, and so it goes.
    (Except when the Enrons of the world get their greedy little fingers in the pie and create artificial shortages.)
    The normal fossil and nuclear fueled power stations don’t switch on and off like a light switch every time demand changes – they continue to operate at whatever capacity they normally do until some event forces a change, either up or down, in their output. It doesn’t happen quickly, in instantaneous response to demand, they operate on a calculated system-grid AVERAGE, and when demand goes up or down, they change their generation amount to meet that demand, or lack thereof, across the entire wide-area grid – and they ain’t using batteries to do it.

    Solar roadways/infrastructure is just one more element that has to be factored into the grid array. Time of day, weather effects on solar power production, damage or outages to the solar array, repairs, replacement downtime….ALL OF IT, is just another number in the calculus a lot of smart people developed to automate the current power grid system already in use. I would suggest adding solar roadway generated power to the existing grids isn’t beyond the abilities of the people who figure this stuff out, anymore than adding more megawatt fossil fuel generation facilities would be.
    There’s no need to create some massive excess capacity storage system at all, just because solar entered the equations. They simply adjust fossil fuel output to accommodate the influx of solar energy at certain times of the day, the same way they would if a fossil fuel power generation facility that was down for maintenance were to come back online and re-join the grid.

    My point is, that this is a PREDICTABLE input & drop-off of power, over a large geographic area or areas, based on historical demand & generation throughout the area(s) at given times of the day and seasonal use by consumers of that power.
    We already suffer brownouts and blackouts even without solar added in, so the system isn’t perfect, but it’d be a hella lot more reliable if diversified smaller solar power influxes were available when something catastrophic takes out localized point-source power production,(earthquake, flood, lightning, alien attack, etc), at a huge megawatt generating facility.

    This is nothing new, the system is ALREADY prepared to handle stuff like the failure of a megawatt power plant. The trickle of solar is shikken-feed compared to the loss of a single power plant in any large area. The grid will flow where demand decides the electricity needs to be WITHOUT any need for storage battery farms.
    Now, the local power utility may be a little disconcerted because they aren’t putting as much money into their checking accounts, but their equipment may last a little longer and not require so many repairs either. Win-some, lose-some, it seems pretty much a wash to this opining person.
    Besides, who do you REALISTICALLY think will OWN all this solar roadway power generation stuff?
    Jup, same ol’ same ol’, mega-corporations will find a way to take our money, whether they burn coal, natural gas or daylight to do it.
    And, of course, we the tax paying people, will be the ones on the hook for setting them up to get even richer, but at least it’ll be a little more Eco-friendlier richer that way & our children may be able to put off buying gas masks and bottled water for a few extra years.

  158. Joe Lade says:

    I can’t get through stories and comments like these without thinking of what went on 100 years ago. When gas/oil and the internal combustion engine where “new technologies”. The horse breeders and buggy makers of the day scoffed at the thought of cars ever being viable. Some claimed that the human body couldn’t survive speeds of over 25 mph.

    Imagine the advancements that would be required! Cars would have to be faster, quieter, more reliable. Better roads, pavement, parking lots, bridges, gas stations every mile. There was a great depression and 2 world wars to fight. What a pipe dream! GET REAL!! GET A HORSE!!! But wait… what happened? New and better technologies were embraced because it moved us forward as a society. Sure mistakes were made. Anyone here drive a steam powered car or an Edsel?

    I’m not saying that solar roadways are a viable solution today, but why not tomorrow? To judge up and coming technologies by what works or doesn’t work today is a huge mistake. If the renewable energies industry got half of the government subsidies that the oil and gas industry gets we could have clean and nearly free energy independence within 10 or 20 years.

  159. Joe Lade says:

    Almost forgot.

    Not only did none of today’s highways, bridges, tunnels, gas stations, parking lots, etc, etc, exist 100 years ago, but the hydro and natural gas grid didn’t exist either.

    Maybe our future would be brighter if the fortitude of our grandparents still existed.

  160. Angela says:

    I do not pretend to know anything about engineering or solar panels, and this sounds like an excellent idea. I’m sure it would have bugs to work out just like anything else.
    The problem I have with these people are: They are asking for contributions to be Donated NOT investors! The are freaking geniuses! Not that they are going to get money from me, but last I looked they had raised over 1.7 million and the way they are doing it, if it does take off, they are the only ones that are going to profit from it. No dividends or profits to share. Not to mention that if they decide it can’t be done, they just keep the money.
    I wouldn’t mind investing in something like this, but to just send money and get a bumper sticker or t-shirt (so they get more advertising) when IF they actually do it, they will be making billions. I don’t think so. But I have to say they are freaking geniuses!

  161. KELLY says:

    I am a nurse and I will not even begin to pretend to have any knowledge on the areas above. I would, however like to ask a question that entered my mind. Forgive me if it seems silly. A fear came over me seeing how in the video they could change the LED lighting for parking spaces, roads etc. Are these computer controlled and if so couldn’t it be hacked possibly creating devastating results?

    • KELLY says:

      Also I am hopeful of the concept, just curious about the above question. Thank you.

    • IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

      KELLY
      Beyond the issue of traffic control, which is indeed a legitimate concern for any computerized system, how much harm could some hacker do to an LED lit public space? Change the light show? I say go for it, in fact make it so ANYONE can change the light show in a public courtyard and let’s see what creativity and artistic displays it can generate.
      It’d be funny to move the yard lines on a public football field for a friendly flag football game, even if the team that has to make the extra yardage might not appreciate it at the time.

  162. Allan says:

    When you can get a 747 off the ground and fly with solar power…I might get on the band wagon…….but until then…sorry..solar can be helpful on a small house by house scale…..but there is nothing on the horizon at the moment that will replace oil and the internal combustion engine as an everyday conveyance….there will certainly come a time when it may be outdated…but I doubt anyone over the age of fifty will ever see it..although I’d love to..

  163. IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

    Who ever said we need to completely replace oil & gas?
    ANY reduction is a step in the right direction.

    Robert Fulton may have envisioned the day when steam-powered flying machines would one day carry people to far away places but most figured that would never happen, and rightfully so – yet even though it wasn’t steam that powered them, those flying contraptions did come to pass.
    The people who used wood fires probably scoffed at the idea of oil or gas being of any use – once upon a time it was considered a disaster to find oil on your land. Now it’s the road to heaven.

    I think beyond the wackiness of the introductory video’s upbeat message is still a core value that needs to be pursued.
    While solar may end up never practical for interstate highways, would it be so terrible if every sidewalk, parking lot, driveway, and concrete/asphalt public space ended up made from something similar?

  164. Anthony Warrilow says:

    This Solar Roadways debunking blog started showing up in my Facebook news feed, and seemed to be treading why? Perhaps people looked at it because they thought it was a joke, or someone was playing a little trick, how could anyone in their right mind hate such an amazing idea?

    Who really cares what this blogger has to say. I’m guessing, anyone who is paying him to say what he says.Who is this Roy Spencer why is he on my newsfeed, wow if you just type in his name the first thing that comes up in Climate misinformer: oh and this is a good one. “Long wrong climate science disinformer Roy Spencer has published another deeply flawed article.”

    Was it this article I wonder, no turns out that this monkey in a lab coat pounding on a keyboard has been at this for years.

    I had a list of things to retort but simply can’t be bothered now I looked him up and saw he was just a puppet for the greed and 1%’ers. Stop taking your cheques or checks (however you americans spell cheques) from the lame stream oil companies and get behind a application. How in the hell your article got to be on my newsfeed in offensive to say the least?

    There is a reason this is being crowded funded and raising millions – least these guys are making a difference and not sitting in their underpants blogging about how right they feel they are all the time. Why don’t you come up with something creative and game changing or then and only then do you get to appear in my newsfeed.

    They should revoke your doctorate and bury you in coal for misinformation crime. Shame, shame, shame! Or you should perhaps be seeking Google Forget Me applications if you want to get people to take you seriously.

  165. Joe Lade says:

    Fossil fuels brought us into the 21st century. No doubt about that. The challenge now is what will carry us into the 22nd century.

    In 2009 I heard of several research groups that were developing solar technology based on plant photosynthesis. Although the results were minimal the solution could be coated on any surface and produced for pennies. It even produced an electrical charge under artificial light. No harmful or expensive materials needed. It could be painted or sprayed on virtually anything and once dried start to produce electricity. Then there is wind, geothermal, tidal and other technologies to explore.

    Maybe solar highways could be more feasible, affordable, practical and far less harmful than many think. For those who seek it, the future could be bright indeed.

  166. Bal says:

    New Ideas must be respected & tested. Why are we so afraid it will fail? AFTERALL, A PROTOTYPE, AND IMPLEMENTATION ON ALL EXISTING ROADWAYS IS NOT OUTRGIHT NATIONALLY or INTERNATIONALLY, it will take years of debate & finance sourcing & it may not be even implemented at all… IT IS tested ON A VERY SMALL SCALE. If it works then, it is good for everyone and GOOD BYE EXPENSIVE OIL & electricity bill. If it does not work, then, the inventor can make corrections and find a better application for his/her idea. If you chip in your intelligence & talent into this idea and find means to solve your criticisms, then, you are among the new heroes.

  167. allen says:

    I am not an educated man, but self taught and have many small accomplishments, but the point is no one will care what I’ve done, but my comment here may reach someone who does care.

    This is the FIRST idea i have seen with actual potential to (yes slowly) change the world. I have been known to be a supporter of electric cars, don’t get me wrong i dream of owning a really fast corvette some day, BUT when Tesla came out with their car I went ape sh!t and why? because i know even muscle car guys can get a rush from an electric car. with time we will make more improvements.

    JUST LIKE THIS!
    To the haters about the wear and tear, FIRST I have been driving for years and the only time you see rubber marks is from a burnout, Ive been driving like all of you on 10+ year old roads in multiple towns and the wear comes from leaking oils the tire tracks of normal cars are the CLEAN PART you freaking idiots. the rubber laid by burnouts can be cleaned from a glass topped surface with ease. (your just trying to find reasons not to like this idea).

    Yes its going to cost an a$$ load of money to make this type of project a reality, but look at the other GREAT accomplishments we have seen. the Telsa, started small and now look at the value. the windmills, dig into that info and you will see the cost/benefit. the US amrmy, heh, you want to talk about costs? hell the sheer amount the gvnmt spends for the irs to audit taxpayers alone would be nothing if we went to a simple sales tax, yes it would be higher, but when broken up into small amount per purchase its not that bad. Ever owned a business or been self employed? well you would know that paying income tax of thousands of dollars a year is worse than paying 15% sales tax on everything you buy that year. and the only downfall, is the irs workers lose their freaking jobs. the gvnmt makes the same money but we pay less and the tax people will learn new trades. who likes them anyways?

    OH and for you solar genius’ about ranting “you didn’t point it south!” are you fu(k!ng kidding me?
    Have YOU ever even used a solar panel? Yes it might work better if angled and tracking the sun, but my damn solar calculator works inside my garage 20′ in with the sun facing the back of my house!
    My solar walkway lights still charge at 1.73v while the sun is completely obscured by trees!
    So its still MAKING ENERGY.

    OH wait, the people saying the heater will detract from the solar energy! Yea, ok so i lose 10-20% of the FREE energy i am saving to power a heater in the board, OMFG are you kidding, ITS STILL MAKING ENERGY!!!

    I see only one downfall of this idea, WHERE are we going to put the EXTRA energy?
    Maybe someone with battery experience can chime in for that one, in the 90′s there was a better battery , but the gvnmt squashed it, so maybe someone out there is smart enough to design a battery bank to house billions of amps and volts into something that is smart enough not to have nuclear meltdown if someone forgets to flush the toilet every day. Search nuclear meltdown if you think im bs’ing, its scary how bad things can go with that $hit.

    Oh wait, what about biodiesel ? Well yea thats real too, and a very real possibility, We still need semi’s and other equipment that cannot (at current time) be replaced by electric. BUT i am sure in time that too will be solved.

    As FOR Phds and other crap that many people now use to dismiss the ideas of others, how about you look back and take a history lesson, not all people who invented, or changed the world, had ANY kind of diploma, hell ive made a good fair living and taught a great many many things, and i never completed high school, in fact by GED is not even recognized by anyone! But I still have not felt hampered by that. I still am proud to know all that i know, despite having crappy schools and rules dictate what i learn and what job i can perform.

    Take what you will from my rant, But know this, I am a WELL educated man, in REAL LIFE.
    And if I can see the VALUE in this idea, I think anyone with BASIC common sense can see my point.
    There are always going to be haters, and people who dislike new ideas, simply because they (want to feel smart, are envious, get paid by whoever, or just fear change) want to get noticed.
    We should be taking names and making record of that, because someday, they will be proven WRONG . And as i sit here thinking about the rants i have seen regarding this project I am in complete shock that there are not more people, with half a brain, to stand up for what they believe in.

    If you like what i had to say let me know, if you didn’t then your a moron. To the others, well get a clue, do some reading, get some experience, and then in ten years re-read my post. In this world you have to realize there are smarter people than yourself, and maybe that guy will change the world with one stupid idea.

    Matt@clinecustoms.com

  168. Bombtech675 says:

    Let me preface all this with the following…I am not a scientist, engineer, scholar, or doctor. I do not have any initials following my name that have been awarded by an institution of higher education. I also do not have any political background or political motivation. I’m just a guy who has spent the entirety of his adult life in service to our nation in the army. I’d like to think that though I don’t have a college education, I do possess a nominal amount of common sense. I’m also pretty good at arguing a point and (most importantly) staying on the point of an argument. All that being said…
    I truly believe this idea has practical applications in some areas. I like the playground idea as it seems to make good sense. Multiple uses of a single space…versatility is still a good idea. The driveways would be a great test area for roadway use simple because it would get some actual vehicle stress put on it. If it holds up on small scale, fantastic! If not, back to the R&D table. I fully admit and realize that the stresses of kids running back and forth are miniscule in comparison to a car or truck, but as with any science experiment, start small and gradually step up the scale.
    There are very many pros and cons in the argument/discussion to implement this system into our roadways, and both sides make valid points. There is speculation as to what kind of outside entities may stall or block the process due to (insert reason here) but that argument has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the discussion at hand, which is whether or not this idea will fall into any of the following categories…Functional or Practical AND on what scale would they fall into which category. I submit that this concept is certainly in its infancy and absolutely has room to grow and develop. We are constantly making leaps and bounds in all areas of science so there is no reason to completely discount this idea. I also submit that in it’s current state, this may not be the best idea for major highways (material strength, impacts from accidents, falling vehicle loads, etc.), but that’s no reason to believe that it may not be practical for the streets of smaller towns…again starting small and slowing stepping up as dictated by the level of achieved success.
    While I believe that there is still a long way to go with this project, I think it could be a step in the right direction. I don’t believe it is THE solution, but it could be the start of something great. I think the benefits of this system will (if properly implemented) would certainly be enjoyed by my children and their children.
    (slightly off subject) I also believe that there are those who will read this post and not make it past my disclaimer because they will see that I freely admit to not having a degree. Others will take note of my life of military service and regard me as nothing more than an uneducated knuckledragger. I truly hope that not everybody regards me in this way. To those who made it this far, I thank you.

  169. Jarl Jakobsen says:

    You cannot stop the future.
    It is here.
    Let go – your childish need for money.
    This idea works – And it will come around – Unless you kill the inventors like so many times before , when someone actually makes something that would benefit the world.
    Let go of your anger and fear..
    Embrace solar freaking roadways

    • Tim says:

      We can only hope. With the internet enough people could get behind this idea and lobby parliament. The Tesla has achieved what all the naysayers said was impossible. It’s time to push that further. There are always problems at first, but it’s the innovative thinkers that will solve them.

  170. I.P.Phrealey says:

    My only issue with these is whether they will have sufficient grip on a rainy day in winter to get a motorbike safely round a corner.
    However I do believe that there are better places to put renewable energy collectors.
    here in the UK we have a lot of wind generators, there is a large array off the coast of Skegness.
    why in this island country we haven’t looked at using wave powered electrical generators is a mystery to me.

    • Tim says:

      Regarding grip… The material meets the appropriate standards for traction and grip. This is a non-issue in this instance.

      • El Hombre Mas Interessante En El Mundo says:

        What standards, and was the product tested when wet (or covered in brake fluid, gasoline/diesel, oil, etc? Even asphalt gets slippery under these conditions. Glass will be far worse. Once it rains out and you have to hit your brakes, you are toast (as is everyone else on the road).

  171. IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

    I would like to add one more item to the discussion before I move on.
    Much of the article author’s detractor argument is that this is not economically feasible.
    I ask him, with his Ph.D. and climate change denier side job, in WHAT CURRENCY is it not economically feasible?

    In petrodollar/global war economy bux? – Which IS a hidden cost in our current roadway system.

    In planetary health bux? – Which IS a hidden cost in our current roadway system.

    In health care delivery bux? – Which IS a HUGE hidden cost in our current carcinogenic petrochemical-dependent system.

    In effects on our descendants bux? – Which MIGHT be a catastrophically expensive future hidden cost to our current system AND to the lives of our children, grandchildren, & great-grandchildren.
    Do we, as custodians of THEIR future, not have a responsibility to insure their futures as well?

    Not all dollars show up in R&D and application, there are many side effects to those technologies we currently employ and many have yet to reveal just how expensive and costly to our health and pocketbooks they will become years from now when we are combating the effects of rising sea levels in our coastal cities, the effects of the continuous introduction of petrochemical additives into our air and groundwater, and the cost of climate change brought on by the use of fossil fuels as it alters severe weather patterns and rainfall redistribution across the globe.
    Those are going to be REAL costs, with REAL dollars attached, in the future – unless you are, of course, a climate change denier and dismiss any such possibility.

    I suppose the Greater auk once considered itself free of consequences because of it’s rich & plentiful cheap food resources – until it encountered mankind and it’s insatiable desire for the down on it’s chest to stuff pillows & quilts.
    Fossil fuels may SEEM inexpensive and plentiful enough to sustain mankind – for now – but one day it’ll be gone too, just like the Greater auk.
    What will we stuff our gas tanks and electricity generators with then and how much will it cost as we try to implement some other source of energy and try to find replacements for all the other synthetic materials derived from fossil fuel deposits – like plastics, and tires, and many of the chemicals and drugs we use today that will no longer have an available base of petroleum to manufacture them from?

    ALL of this has a cost, we just don’t appreciate those costs because we aren’t always aware of them, but they exist and SHOULD have been calculated into the cost of a fossil fuels economy from the git-go.
    Pretending they aren’t there, because we don’t see them, is the easiest way to make solar comparatively more expensive – but it’s a LIE, a HUGE lie being perpetrated by the merchants and purveyors of those so-called “cheaper” sources of energy.
    It’s time to learn the new math, one which includes ALL the costs of doing business in petrochemical & fossil fuel dependency.
    Perhaps THEN solar will become both more attractive and more economically feasible, without changing a single cost of solar itself.

  172. Tim says:

    Regarding the cleaning and maintenance of the panels… They’ll require more maintenance than regular roads but the material wouldn’t wear down the same as ashphalt. More people will have more jobs. Our population is surging. There are people with engineering degrees working at Burger King in our current economy that could be helping make this a more viable option. Then take into account all of the people with engineering experience that they’re currently using for other methods of electricity generation – They’ll be steadily changing industries. Then there’ll be more labour jobs for the ridiculous amount of unemployed and poor. As we slowly stop giving gigantic handouts to mining and oil companies we can reallocate the funding to here. It’s not like we can do this all at once, it would start small and steadily grow over the years.

    • Tim says:

      All of it would be monitored remotely by computers as well, so if a problem is detected we could have quick responses to accidents or any road damage. People have to stop shying away from innovative thinking. Sure, at first there will be a few kinks but they can and WILL be solved.

  173. Konstantina says:

    Please learn the diference between an opposition and simply posing questions.

  174. Andre Murray says:

    hello i am 14
    my name is andre
    and to all u nay sayers stop
    i used to be like u i thought this was ridicules and i see where your coming from but, being part of the human race you should all no that anything is possible i mean look at all we have accomplished, this idea may not be perfect but instead of pointing out whats wrong with it why dont we find a way to all come together and figure out answers for set problems in other words make peace not war, acording to science our life span comparing to the universe is not very long and this couple made something of theirs so lets support and help them this can work to perfection for perfection is created by other imperfections (us) thanks for reading

  175. Eric says:

    Roy,

    I appreciate the critical view this idea, however as a mechanical engineer myself I believe the problems you mention above are practical problems with practical solutions. As for funding we need to consider that Rome wasn’t built in a day and any new invention being propogated on a mass scale will take time. Let’s not discredit ideas like these imeaditly, but approach them as possible and come together as an engineering community to work out the practical issues to ideas like these.

  176. card puller says:

    You should actually read and understand the concept before criticize it. All of your concerns are addressed by the inventors. The ice melts because it has a heating element in the panel, they take into consideration that they’re only going to get 15% and even at that level it would still generate three times more electricity than the entire country uses. The texture of the glass itself actually helps improve the efficiency by acting as a prism which bends the sunlight directly down towards the panel no matter what angle the sun is at.

    In any case I’m not going to address all of your concerns for you when you can just read about them yourself, which is what you should be doing before you publish an opinion and make a fool of yourself.

  177. harold burbank says:

    i like this idea since all reasonably feasible ideas on sustainability should be considered today. i have no doubt that cost, materials and engineering issues could be overcome; cost being a man made obstacle of course, and sustainability at any cost probably a reality for humanity at some point. prototypes on the scale envisioned should be tested and improved, and more work done from there. no big public works idea – national electrification, the usa interstate system, etc – was ever done all at once. comments on solar doing well in cold, cloudy countries like germany are well taken. there has been far too little experimentation with solar in hostile environments for solar roads to be willy nilly rejected today. i wish the inventor and others good luck.

  178. robert nethery says:

    are you paid by an oil company?

  179. Glenn Shapiro says:

    When I see some enterprising INDIVIDUAL not a government)install these road solar panels in his parking lot, or on a street, and then publish the results showing all costs, and if it shows a profit, THEN i will jump on the bandwagon.
    Until then, it sounds like a pipe dream.

    From what I have seeen, solar power works best in the micro (home units, small uses(traffic signs, eg) but the economy of scale does noy seem to be there yet.

  180. Ruth-Anne White says:

    There will always, in any invention be ‘naysayers’. The beginning of this posting was questions. Answer the p l e a s e. Of course there are going to be areas where road placement is not feasible, of course their are going to be some problems, like any new invention where improvements must be made. This is an ingenious idea, and I do have engineering, and I have worked in Aerospace, automotive, and O.E.M., most of my life at top level, and seen just such ideas, come to head and succeed. I would be happy, in Canada to be able to afford to put this on my driveway, or on my roof, in the interest of humanity, and an alternative sourcing to energy resourcing. People should think before they judge, and look at the technology going into this piece, it is not something that did not have an engineer of some level involved. Give your head a shake, geesh. You hand out your credentials, and criticize and judge, but where are your facts. The general premise of this invention is amazing. Now in small towns, and cul de sacs they have cobble stone, heated, roads, already existing, so why not try this there? In my opinion, it is the future, it is an invention in the direction of a solution. What are you doing to improve technology, and environmental concerns on our current electrical sourcing concerns. Keep in mind when I worked in Aerospace and O.E.M. I worked with Nuclear boilers that were manufactured to house radioactive water, bi product of the electricity that we Canadians send to United States. I listen every day to uneducated people (and their choice to be uneducated) condemn, petition, and fight against progress, such as windmills, or new technology like this project, WITHOUT giving a solution or a better idea. They complain about hearing loss (as I sit here with ringing in my ears from electrical transformers that were to close to my home growing up), and eye sore, yet they do not show statistics of the loss of lives from people that died of cancer in the plants that made the nuclear boilers to help create hydro electricity. If we are going to evolve as a planet, we have to be more constructive in our criticism and informed of our information, BEFORE we ask questions. BEFORE we ask question. I think this invention is BRILLIANT…KUDOS to the inventor and the firm trying to press it.

  181. aussie chic says:

    Here in Australia we use a lot of solar panels and the more people buy them and use them the cheaper they get, for pete’s sake you americans should know that, you invented mass production. We use solar panels for a lot of things and not just heating our homes (hot water services) and electricity but also to provide power for emergency phones on highways and electronic signs on sides of roads and highways.
    Even if we only did it for our driveways and footpaths or basketball courts isn’t that better than not. Open your mind to the possibility. this person who originally wrote this (blog) sounds like a case of sour grapes and that you didn’t come up with the idea in the first place. Good on the couple for thinking outside the square.

    • El Hombre Mas Interessante En El Mundo says:

      Cost aside, I think this kind of idea is better suited for walkways/sidewalks at present. This could be done on a smaller scale, providing a means of phasing the concept in (and limited impact if it doesn’t work as anticipated). From walkways, you could extend the solar concept to crosswalks, and then to driveways and maybe this could drive costs down by the time one starts considering extending the concept to an actual road.

      HOWEVER – this is not what’s being proposed. They are looking to push a roadway; one that is not far enough along to be viable. Without going into anything engineering-related, it often rains outside. Cars also leak slippery fluids. These will cause fatalities. The conversation really ends there for now.

      With a little R&D, this could become an excellent initiative to pursue. We’re just not there yet.

  182. Anthony says:

    First of all, thermodynamics has nothing to do with the way the road is heated. If you are going to give a lesson in anything it should be in electromagnetism and how it is able to be stored and used at a later date for such an application as heating a surface. And most of the country doesn’t even need the electricity to heat the road. Since it is all interconnected, if you run out of the stored energy, it can be drawn upon from other areas that do not require additional energy to thaw ice and snow. Secondly, if you look out the window of your front yard, there is probably a roadway there somewhere. How much of the surface area is covered in oil, or tire marks, or any other obstruction on the actual pavement. What would the percentage be based on that observation within one city block. That said, I do understand the roadways will get dirty, however, now, those who are currently employed in repaving, snow plowing, etc, and all city workers employed on roadways would have employment keeping the panels clean. Thirdly, as for payment on such an endeavour, I would gladly forfeit my tax money and put my part in for this initiative, which seems to be the consensus view.

  183. Geoff says:

    “too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

    Oh wait, that was Western Union in 1876 about the telephone.

  184. Brian Howard says:

    I propagated this story not for it’s use on streets but in other public spaces such as sidewalks and parking lots. PV conversion is limited but if these panels outlast their cost of installation we’d be adding “free” energy to the grid reducing our dependence. Also, once the panels are in mass production they’d become financially viable for the private market.

  185. steve says:

    It’s a step 8n the right direction. We put a man on the moon. This should be a breeze.

  186. Mike CO says:

    I love the idea; I have 5k PV on my house and thanks to rebates and tax credits it has paid for itself already.

    But, there’s some lack of reality on both sides here. Efficiency makes no difference. A 200w panel will produce around 200w in ideal unobstructed conditions, somewhat less flat on the ground depending on your latitude. But that panel is 12-15 sq. ft. On a densely cloudy day, 30% of that rating is doing pretty good. So you end up with 60w or 4-5w per sqft. That will not produce enough heat to melt snow and ice unless it is pretty warm to begin with. And snow or rain lowers the output more than just clouds.
    These panels can’t achieve that output density because they have leds and heating elements that use some of the area.
    Second, the key word above is unobstructed. A parking lot, unless it is empty may have 25% available PV area, depending on the sun angle. Is there a car in your driveway for some of the day? Though a street/road will have more PV area, traffic will disrupt the output. This would need to have some advanced switching electronics to account for a few semis blocking out large sections of panels at a time.
    Third, these aren’t cobblestones; they would need a solid base to set on, i.e. pretty much a standard roadway. In addition, the top surface would have to be entirely sealed in areas subject to freezing or they would be totaled out pretty quickly. That seal would need to be maintained.

    I do suppose you could build a new road in a new neighborhood and pass along the cost as part of the development/lot cost. But I’d guess this to be about $20k++ per lot. Not an issue in upscale areas I guess.

    Now for a playground or sports area there could be lots of cool ideas. Long as they are wide open with no trees shading the south side.

    Fun idea but for right now it is vastly impractical.

  187. 10Dawg says:

    The Jetson’s told me we would all be driving flying cars by now and not need roads. I feel cheated. Who do I blame about this?

  188. Jana Uhlik says:

    Man, some people just don’t get it. Oil will be gone some day. Period. Only short-sighted people that think of nothing than their own profit NOW instead of a sustainable future for our children still believe that oil will be there forever. And we MUST look for other alternatives. Anything that opens up options is good. It is a start. It may not work right away, and it may be expensive right now, but give it some time, some more engineering, some test drives, and I am sure it will work at some point, maybe even in other areas. I hate those naysayers who won’t move their butts a little bit, because they are way too comfortable with the existing energy system. They are the first ones who will cry when the oil is gone. And it will be, everybody with a little bit of brain knows that …

  189. rockiesoil says:

    I am a huge proponent of solar. I’ve done a lot of research for my own use at home and some other projects. I’m also a Geologist working on my PhD while I work fulltime for a major oil company. I try my hardest to be impartial. I consider myself a scientist first, oil man second. My skills as a stratigrapher and geochemist are what they are and that happens to be best suited for oil and gas exploration – we all need to pay our taxes somehow. I know several may disregard all that I say as biased and that’s fine, hopefully my comments will indicate otherwise. This is not written perfectly – so the grammar police best shut it, I’m saving it for my dissertation – I stumbled to this site somehow – gotta love the internet – after watching the solar roadway video through a link on Facebook. The innovation and creative thinking behind this idea is great. I give this couple a lot of credit. I like to see people thinking and developing ideas – right or wrong / useful or useless – but at least attempting to problem solve and create something. As a society we are excellent at criticizing and destroying, and poor at supporting creativity. People seem to forget how many inventions/innovations of the last couple hundred years were accidental. I am only going to address ONE aspect of what I see as a major concern with this concept – and that is resources. On a cost per kilowatt energy equivalent – compared to hydrocarbons – we do not have enough known deposits of rare earth materials like Cadmium, Lithium, Cobalt and Nickel – just to name a few, to make this work – given our current technology. The issue here is not just the panels themselves but short-term and intermittent storage and transport, aka batteries, and the “cost” to make versus what we have today in hydrocarbons. People seem to forget the processes involved in making solar panels and batteries, batteries especially – it’s nasty on a scale that very few understand. It will get better over time – solar panels have advanced quickly – but in 2014, we DO NOT have the technology to make this work at this scale. On a small scale – roofs, water heaters, etc. – yes, we have crude solutions using solar, but you cannot apply that to a global solution – If you need a 1,000 gallons of water, you don’t buy 10,000 individual water bottles – we need to think LARGE scale and low waste. You must also look at the TOTAL carbon footprint – if that is in fact the most important proxy for environmental impact. Take the average Prius battery as an example, and if you think batteries are not part of this equation, then you’re an idiot. The Nickel/Cadmium/Lithium/Cobalt is mined in Canada, South America and Asia – we don’t have much in the US and we’re so strict that it’s not very cost effective here anyhow. Once it is mined, the raw material are shipped to Asia to be refined and processed (horrible process). Once that is done, it’s shipped to Europe for manufacturing and assembly and then it is shipped again back to Asia (and other countries) to be installed in the vehicles. All of this for a battery that has an 8-10 year life cycle (according to Tesla, but I could be wrong). You then have to deal with the discarded material that is nearly impossible to recycle and or reuse. Through technology and innovation we discredited the Hubbert’s Peak model for oil in the late 70s/80s. Back then we thought we were running out – the end is near mindset, but we know now that we have significantly more oil and gas reserves. The technology behind solar panels and batteries will evolve too, but, we are not there now. The real issue is how do we get there when we rely on other countries for everything nasty that we take for granted – especially raw materials and general manufacturing. If we double the solar input into our energy grid (from 1% to 2%) using small scale rooftop, etc., we’re effectively increasing (not really doubling) the resources needed to manufacture those materials – which means China – and we all know how environmentally friendly China can be. For us to get to our myopically perceived perfect world of “alternative energy”, given our technology in 2014, we’d effectively destroy the planet on our way to get there – a lot of plastic bottles. Our first priority should be the transition to natural gas – no more coal-fired power plants and soon after no more oil for transport and manufacturing – we’ll always need oil for other non-combustion related processes – clothing, drugs, plastics, etc. but the carbon output from that is manageable. Gas is our cleanest, most effective energy source possible and this is possible today with less effort that we think and are led to believe. We have more remaining natural gas in the world than oil – coal however, we have more than we could ever use, so there will always be that battle. Gas is cleaner, much cleaner and more efficient. Once a majority of the world has transitioned to gas, not just the US, then we can tackle clean ways to efficiently find new sources of energy – and I think solar will play a major role. The issue is not the USA, it’s the world, so we need to create the fossil fuel baseline first and we have not done that yet, we’re bickering and looking too far into the future. You cannot go from 100 year old combustion engine technology to solar panel roads overnight, you must take steps. China and India are in their own industrial revolution and they will use and abuse all they can to get to where we are now. If this happens, given their current usage of oil and coal, nothing we do with our rooftop installations will make any difference. We need to become the most efficient, cleanest hydrocarbon-based country in the world first – hell we use the most, so it should be the US. Once we do that and prove it is possible, others will follow because we’ll drop the cost and accessibility to the technology for everyone else- and then, and only then can we use those efficiencies to really find an alternative for the future.

    • Bill says:

      Rockiesoil,

      I agree with where your minds at, especially concerning the lack of raw materials required to execute this idea on a massive scale. However there is no need for this to be massive, but given the original presentation its understandable that people would envision it as such.

      I’m skeptical about the snow issue. I can see how it might work if the system was designed to import energy from other units after being initially covered by snow (a point at which asphalt would stop absorbing heat). Even then, that seems like a long shot to me.

      So maybe this won’t work in snowy areas, that’s ok, we’ve got many sunny areas where it might. What I am really intrigued by is the value this idea could have outside of the energy issue. For arguments sake, lets agree this idea is not directly and immediately financially viable…what about the impact it could have on road safety and traffic issues. Think about what it was like the last time you left a big football game and how much money all the traffic cops cost….now imagine how much easier (and possibly cheaper) that experience could have been if the road lanes were programmable. This is one of many potential benefits to consider, I’ve only had 20 mins to think about it.

      There’s 500 posts about energy and relative cost and while that is a very important aspect, it’s not hard to envision smaller scale scenarios where this technology would be valuable even if it is more expensive.

  190. mikes says:

    For all you “engineers” who didn’t bother to look at the website before screaming foul, there is a FAQ section that deals with just about every concern. I have some misgivings about this myself. I live in minnesota and somewhat doubt the surfaces ability to melt as much snow as we get. That said, it’s a cool idea. If you think that the earths supply of Fossil fuels will last forever, you really don’t understand consumption. Just saying something is a bad idea after glancing at a facebook feed (and being woefully behind in your knowledge of current solar tech) only further illustrates a problem we have: “I am an expert! I debunk this! What is this, again? I didn’t bother to read it.” Signed, an expert.

  191. John Bodkin says:

    While I appreciate your insights, I find it very difficult to beleive that you are an engineer of any kind. Let’s address your concerns one by one.
    1. The angle or orientation on the road is irrivelant. The flat surface with no obstacles will perform very well according to Solar Engineers. While I do agree that there are more efficient ways to produce solar energy this one is mostly viable.
    2. Ah the melting snow… Actually I agree with you on this one. I don’t think snow removal in this manner is realistic.
    3/4 The harsh enviornment. Most photogaletic panels have a life of about 20 years or so before their efficiency dips below 80%. I think any system like this must be able to pop individual cells out when they are damaged or lose efficiency.
    5. The cost. I must confess, I have not seen a cost associated with these roadway panels. I did do some research and found that the average cost of Interstate per square foot is $36 today. Pretty pricey for concrete and base and labor.
    So while I think there are a few problems to address I think this demonstrates yet another way to harness solar power.
    By the way, what have you done personally to move towards solar? I have just signed a contract to cover my roof with panels, not only to reduce my personal costs, but to reduce the carbon footprint of my household.

    • Ron M says:

      John, not to put down solar energy (I actually am a foreman for a large company that installs solar farms) but have you checked with your insurance company about installing solar panels on your roof? I am not saying it is a bad idea, I am merely asking because it was brought up once in a conversation I had with a firefighter. more often than not when fighting a house fire the firefighters will have to cut open holes in the roof to access the flames in the attic. With solar panels installed this makes it difficult for them to do. First of all the panels are an obstruction to the actual breaking open of the roof, but they are now also dealing with a live circuit since there is no way to “shut off” a solar panel. It would be something to look into before you actually do it and find out there may be added costs that you didn’t know about or even a restriction. There may also be the whole leakage of the roof if the framing is improperly installed. I’m not telling you to not do it, just be aware before you do!

  192. Orlando says:

    not by you not by your opinion.

  193. Orlando says:

    The world is changed by example, not your opinion!

  194. AceCannon says:

    A brilliant idea, but not at all practical on a large scale. A great way to bilk people out of hard earned money and to get the government to redistribute money. One word, Solyndra.

  195. Mike CO says:

    For grins, I brought up a google map of my street. The roof areas are over twice as much as the road area.

    The cost of roof mounted solar is a fraction of the cost of this technology; regardless of the panel cost, the installation cost of this is phenomenal.

    So, how does this make sense when we haven’t even begun to tap a less expensive technology deployment? (my house is the only one of 32 with solar panels) Seriously, I’d like to see that answered…

    • Bill says:

      Mike,

      I’m not a full blown supporter of this idea, there’s a lot more I’d like to know about it. With regard to your question, I think you’re probably the best one to answer it. You said you have solar panels, how long will it take for them to pay themselves off? In order to answer that question you have to consider interest rates as well as a persons personal preference for money today vs tomorrow. —— So, your neighbors don’t have solar panels because they value money today more than money tomorrow when compared to you, or they are stupid, or you are stupid (just acknowledging the possibility). Of those 3 possibilities you’re best suited to figure out which is true.

  196. M.J. Holmes says:

    I see a lot of debate, but the crucial points that would actually push this kind of project into success:

    1. Open Minds ~ It’s a positive idea with a lot of positive results. Those with viewpoints attempting to shoot down every single ideal involved doom the rest of us to the same situation we’re in now (poor economy, $#!tty road conditions, et. Al.).

    2. Trust ~ I understand it’s human nature to mistrust anything that’s not completely founded. The only benefit I can see as a result of mistrust are minds that realize…

    3. …The Cons That Need a good Pro-ing ~ How about it? How about taking all those negatives you’re so keen to harp on and instead FIND SOLUTIONS TO REMEDY THEM.

    What about the elements of road grime? Discover a cheap non-APFO surface that allows the grime to be washed into the collection channels already included in the roadway design (one channel for the electronic relays, the other for water runoff ~ which should actually be three or four in hindsight)

    What about road wear? Refurbishment. It’s not the entire road that needs replacing, just the hardened glass panel resting atop replaceable components.
    Or LED’s.
    Or heating element wafers.
    Or whatever else.
    They pop one panel out, replace it with another, and get out of the way in a matter of a few minutes. The glass is recyclable, and I wouldn’t be surprised half the rest of the components can be made as such also.

    What about road angle? The ideal is to have a complete network of roads constructed this way. All would be connected and producing in one place or another as one complete network. Sunlight somewhere is being collected.

    Please do me one thing: before you turn my words into out-of-context quotes, fuel to continue the naysaying, etc. could you instead spend that mental energy on something that benefits us all. Humans are said to be the high-end of creative or evolutionary hypothesis. Yet, we like to act like savages to each other under the pretext not all of us have a engineering degree we enjoy waving around like it means everything.

    -M-
    §

  197. Ron M says:

    I find this interesting, but I do have some questions and or concerns. Does anybody know of a link or website that has the specifications of these panels? I work for a large company that installs solar farms and I do know the pros and cons of solar energy. It is a wonderful concept, but I am apprehensive of jumping on the “this will save the planet” bandwagon at this point. I can see practical applications in the south of 40N latitudes, but north of 40 I would like more information on the sub road (Base) due to the frost heave and thaw we experience up here and the actual road surface set up. There would have to be gaps for expansion & contraction of the panels, so if the panels heat the snow and ice the water would inevitably find it’s way between the panels. Is the frame heated also or would you have a freezing problem in the expansion joints? Would water seep below the panels and freeze and heave? Solar panels are set at angles in a southward facing direction (Northern hemisphere) depending on the latitude of the installation. What is the efficiency of the modules while laying flat on the ground? The glass also looks to be somewhat opaque, does this reduce efficiency? If the glass should break (snow plows, heavy trucks…) would the broken panel be like a pothole with glass shards? What is the actual traction difference between asphalt, concrete and glass?

    I am all for new ideas and look forward to the day that we can make our planet cleaner and safer, but I would like to be able to find the answers to these and other questions before I give this both thumbs up. Kudos to the people behind this idea and the subsequent trial programs, but lets get all the numbers before we go too far and find out it was just not ready yet as technology stands and have it dismissed altogether for future applications.

    Just my thoughts.

  198. Anu Sood says:

    “Furthermore, the above photo really has me suspicious. The photo supposedly shows the “active” portion of a solar parking lot melting snow. Say WHAT?….here’s a little lesson in thermodynamics. A dark surface heated by the sun converts essentially all of the absorbed sunlight into heat energy…which is what is needed to melt snow. If you instead siphon off some of the absorbed solar energy in the form of electricity, there is actually LESS heat energy to melt snow!”

    You are not or should not be qualified to give lessons in thermodynamics or for that matter any technical subject. When there is snow on a dark surface, it becomes a light surface. Only after most of the snow melts does the surface become darker. And a dark surface will become warmer than a light surface when exposed to sunlight, hence accelerating the melting process. You are a hack buddy. Were you educated at Ted Nugent University?

  199. LeoB says:

    Instead of focusing on what you perceived as potential problems, why not offer a solution to these problems instead of simply throwing this idea as garbage? Be part of the solution – that is your higher calling. Unless, of course, you just want to keep the status quo.

  200. Mr. Smart says:

    You fail to see the big picture. The big picture is that even the system that we have now, and the materials that we use now, is taking a large toll. How many millions (billions?) of dollars are spent each year maintaining roads? How much wear and tear on vehicles is caused by potholes and cracks from the roads we have now? How much danger is there on the roads when they’re covered with snow and ice now? These (and more!) are the problems we have with the current road system we already have in place. Just because you can point out several potential problems with a new system, doesn’t mean that it’s not worth giving it a shot. It’s the short-minded people in this world that impede creativity and solutions to these kinds of problems. Was the world looking for a new light source before Edison invented the light bulb? Probably not. Not on a wide scale, at least. Same with the telephone. What kind of forsaken land is this, that we would accept our fate and our situations as it is? Not just in roads, but in all things. Our valor for engaging in new ideas, and our gusto for change, has all but disappeared in this country. So please, stop adding to the problem and, if you indeed are as smart as you say you are, start being a part of the solution.

  201. Paul Bennett says:

    Last time I checked and I drive for a living there are some roads that run east-west. Just an example all even numbered interstates. Would you like me to continue?

  202. I think this is worth a pilot project, and I see no problem with asking taxpayers to fund it, just like we fund road work of all kinds now. Roy, the amount of electricity to power highly efficient LED lighting is very, very small, so yes, a roadway that is a blackbody already could siphon off a tiny amount to deal with lighting while using the rest of the electricity to heat the subsurface and keep the roads clear of ice and snow. I’d vote for a pilot project for this to see how it goes.

  203. Shane Wood says:

    I watched the video and read some points about it being a bad idea with people debating both side of the arguement. but surely the biggest problem to the enviroment is population growth and space and materials for accomedation. The only way to save this planet is population control or the colinization and terra forming of other planets, which means we could be killing other plants as well if we are not very carefull how tread. Humanity has to be very carefull with it’s choices as we may become a cancer swarming through the universe. sorry for the spelling mistakes as I am not perfect.

  204. Nick says:

    My God..!! Where is all the common sense we’re all vouching for ???!! ‘Roads’ are meant for ‘loads’. They are supposed to be tough and durable. We don’t need the tons of extra maintenance. There is plenty of free space in the Arizona desert for all the panels you want to lay. Your hearts are in the right place. Your brains probably not !!

  205. jim marchionna says:

    What if those panels as a group on a northern roadway could generate enough energy to run roadway lighting and keep the roadway temperature above freezing. Could the value saved in road plowing and maintenance as well as cars not rusting be enough to offset cost cause roads are breaking apart across the northeast

  206. Tim says:

    This video shows the many reasons why this particular solar highway proposal is a bad idea:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H901KdXgHs4

  207. tm says:

    As I have read somewhere else it would take more money than exist in the world to build this crap.

    No real engineer would approve of this scam. Its one of those feel good ideals that wont work.

    #1 solar cells don’t generate enough power to melt snow.That proves its a scam. What they are talking about is charging batteries and using the stored power to melt the snow. That would only work for the 1st day of snow cover after that the batteries would never charge up again due to the overload from the heaters.

    #2 Solar cells don’t generate enough energy to pay for the cost in installing them or the cost in replacing them after they fail in 4 or 5 years.

    #3 No mater whats these guys say they can not survive the treatment on a roadway. It is unproved tech. Lets see it installed in 1 ft of roadway down town and see if they last a month or 2 before we even talk about this. Then lets see if they last a year.

    This is one of those ideals the ignorant masses clasp on and want but have no clue what they are talking about.

    I have a deg in electronics and I know current solar tech is not feasible.

    In a few years all these panels on homes will fail and be thrown away because people will understand that it just never made back what it cost to install before it flailed.

  208. Sara Hollis says:

    Remember the guy that said everything that is important has already been invented? And the guy that said the automobile will never replace the horse? And people trashing Tesla? You sound like them.

  209. Harry Sherouse says:

    First of all individuals with homes will be the first to use these solar panels in there driveways and sidewalks. These panels can collect soar energy and store the energy in solar batteries that can be used to turn on heating elements that can added to heat up the driveways and sidewalks to keep the snow melting and the water can drip down holes in the panels to a sewer or storm drains. The panels can add light to the sides of a drive way to make it easier to see the drive way at night. The panels can also use lights to light up the edge of sidewalk to see the way to a persons house. And if you use different color lights you can have red, white, blue for the 4th of July, red and green for Christmas and other colors for other celebrations. The Solar Power panels can help lower more the electrical items used by a home owner. The materials they are incorporating in these panels are also material that is recyclable. It will take time for government to use them in the roads, city parks or what ever. Our government is highly influenced by the oil companies, the electric companies that want us to continue to pay high prices at the gas pump and for electricity. It will be the individual home owners that will support this. This is why the governments in countries are now supporting more solar, wind and water powered energy. If you stand too long in Germany you might find them putting a solar panel on you. The government in Germany is getting the rights to use peoples barns and other structures to help increase the amount of solar panels. The USA is far behind the countries like Germany, the U.K. and other countries.

  210. Shamika says:

    Now I may not be an engineer but I do have some various opinions as to this subject.
    1. You mentioned the the solar panels needed to be turned toward the sun when there’s no need for that unless they are on houses because roofs are not flat. The moving ones issued on solar farms move in order to gain optimum sunlight. If they were on the roads they would gather enough sun to at least pay for themselves.
    2.the dirt problem is really avoidable when I think about it. Seeing as there are sealants that can be used to protect from things like that.
    3. Street sweepers. Some cities already have them. So there’s no problem I can see there.
    And lastly 4. The family received money to build the prototype. The fund raising is helpful but probably will not pay for all of the roads. In my opinion I think the best way to go about this is to install them in a small town and monitor the progress or the lack thereof.
    You make decent points however, but there is a possible solution to every problem and anything that will cut down on the American carbon footprint the better.we have already made progress with electric cars why not add to the progress? Why is this a bad idea in theory?

  211. Ted says:

    Roy, for a PhD, you’re not very dilligent. You reach conclusions without having seen the solar roadway prototype in person, without going over test data such as load-bearing tests, without having a dialogue with the developers… basically without gaining a thorough understanding of what you have seen online before you opened up your mouth and drew your final conclusions.

    I expect better from scientists. Much better. Reaching a conclusion based on this article is even more egregious folks.

    …oh and Roy, yes the inventors got funding. That’s what inventors need to do in order to develop their ideas. You don’t even know what they have went through to develop this technology yet you balk at the money they received thus far to develop it.

    I’m really blown away with your amaturish evaluation, Roy. I’d expect this kind of thing from a HS grad who went on to the food service industry.

    • Ted says:

      Wow… I read a synopsis of Roy’s work. Heh, now I’m not surprised at all. Amazing how education can produce people like this who reach one bad conclusion after another then stamp their credentials all over it. It’s sad in two ways. Sad for those who are mislead and sad for the resistance to what needs to be done that is generated as a result.

  212. rosemary says:

    it sounds good with good intentions, but the end result will be a complete loss
    even if it does work, what if we have a war over here; usa; boom..loss of major dollars
    either way to me, a simple person, can see this will work only if one can get rid of the government n enviromental out of the picture( ha..fat chance)…of course religion will have to be elimated too…( the cause of all wars is religion)…
    if u put them in the worst part of the city , dont one think that looters/homeless/criminal/etc will steal,destroy,take for profit the panels? so replacement cost will cost taxpayers more money..which in turn, debt keep rising higher n higher.
    good thought that its a hope for changing the future in the better way. to me its a scam, ill know if its a scam when i see it on tv or hear it from the major news media endorcing it
    ps. srry bout the spelling

  213. John says:

    It seems almost everyone is forgetting the premise of the proposal. It is not saying this will happen in the next few years, the idea is merely saying this is a possible application. The most important aspect to end all of the conjecture about raised taxes and related topics is that they are working to test the technology and apply it to appropriate scale projects such as parks, driveways, sidewalks, etc… The entire highway infrastructure of the US is not the short term goal; the development and improvement of the idea (to include addressing problems and challenges) and research into efficiency is.

  214. Andrew Marsh says:

    I think that there may be something to this solar roadway project. However, I also agree that there are many other technical issues that would have to be overcome for this to be effective. Ideally, I would like to believe that this idea would work, but it will take research and testing to prove this theory before I would invest in it. I hope it works, I really do. However lets not put all our eggs in one basket before we have a proven concept.

  215. Panos says:

    Has anyone of these people ever tried to apply the BREAKS on a glass surface ?? Especially when wet !! What an absolutely silly idea !

  216. Jayson says:

    The limitations pointed out by Roy will undoubtedly arise from a thorough evaluation of the newly funded prototype. We shouldn’t forget that this is a first generation implementation, there will be many more to come before we see this come in to practice. Why on earth wouldn’t you give it a chance? The NSF fund all kinds of research, a lot of which will have far less impact.

  217. Andi says:

    If we listen to experts (who only focus on what have been done) we wont get anywhere :)

    So this guy – ph.d titel and all – can tell about what has been done – not what innovation will be like I the future.

    The road solar panel might not be the perfect solution – regarding pure solar energy – but it takes care of a lot of things in one go.

    Any ways – give good energy to good ideas – and co greate instead of pointing fingers at flaws – many things wasn’t perfect from the start -in fact – do as one of the greatest innovators ever – Steve jobs – is rumored to have said “2.Don’t worry, be crappy” – just let people get the idea of what CAN happen with the invention when it works – it will be backed by many

  218. Oscar says:

    Not sure if anyone has explained this, i’m not reading 600 comments, but in regards to your ‘furthermore’ comment about the snow on the road.
    The reason why snow stays on the black ash felt road is because there would be little sun light hitting the road due to the clouds and the snow. Also once the snow is on the road all the energy is reflected. If the snow falls at night time, which it usually does, there’ll snow blocking the sun by morning, therefor allowing more snow to build up.
    The solar road on the other hand can source energy from a different location or batteries, to melt the snow off.

    Hope that clears things up, sorry if it’s already been pointed out.

  219. Wanda says:

    Les felicito y admiro su invento. Espero ser una de sus clientes cuando llegue a Puerto Rico. Exito para usted y su familia.

  220. Anna Haillie says:

    While this was quite an amazing fete of technological accomplishment, I see how there would be problems and hiccups in the actual process. However, I still think we should keep striving for a viable solution to ever increasing electricity bills and roadway hazards resulting from freezing climates. So I just want to tell the inventors of these products “Way to strive for a solution! Let’s keep brainstorming for more ideas!”

  221. John says:

    I am most certain the government can appropriate some money to get this project off the ground. Look at the billions they waste as it is. Regardless of the exact how it will be implemented, it is obvious we need a change and this is in the right direction. The problem is that many in power and receiving the profits from outdated technology and methods are afraid of this. Remember when Napster came out and the music companies were trying to sue random people to prevent the downloading of music? Time and technology marches on and so should we with this technology. People in power need to evolve with technology not try to hold us back in the dark ages. I am in support of it.

    • Rene Boscio Babilonia says:

      John, when you mentioned the dark ages, I thought wright away of our dear friend Christopher Colombus. If it was’nt for him people in the European countries would still be thinking the earth was flat. EVERITHING IS POSSIBLE AND NEW TECHNOLOGY KEEPS PROVING IT.

  222. Fábio Almeida says:

    OMG!!
    Rene Boscio Babilonia first of all don’t talk about history when you don’t know it at all, Christopher Colombus only discovered the sea way to North America cause he thought if he just aim forward eventually he would find India. Colombus was the foolish sailor in the history of Portuguese Discovery, that needed to go to spain to get support for the trip. Have you ever wondered why the natives in America were called indians? Think about it. The man that found out that the Earth was round was Fernão de Magalhães you should look into it.
    About the actual topic I Agree with some issues pointed out, but… the main reason I have some doubts about this is, tarmac is flexible and capable of withstand a lot of damage before it breaks and we are talking about glass or Something else that as to do the same. About prices and stuff like that, I’ll Just say “Fiber Glass” around 10 years ago 1 meter of fiber glass was more expensive than 2km of Stp Networking cable everyone said it would be impossible. The other is no one in the presentation said that these were going to be applied in short term and all around the world at the same time, so… if you ask me I think it’s a good idea, I only need a proof that it can withstand bolders falling from the mountains, huge weights from trucks and erosion.

  223. Shanie says:

    Reals ingeneers think about solutions not about just doing a list of the problems created by a new techology. Blame on you. I love their idea.

  224. Tracy says:

    Heres a thought…
    Stop focusing on the massive trillions of dollars in the article.
    Start with driveways, just let Americans willing to have them installed have a small subsidy and hook the driveways to the grid.
    That will allow all those who want to try to do some small part the ability to do that part.
    If enough people do it, maybe it will have a little impact immediately.
    Over the years the technology could increase and maybe move to sidewalks and parks. Maybe even just use them as center lines on roadways to start with.
    Problem with this Generation is that if it doesnt show dividends immediately they are ready to abandon it and move on.
    Nothing says this will be cost effective but in the long run will it be planet saving effective?
    It seems like a pretty simple start and doesnt make us suffer a lower quality of life like those expensive and ridiculous curly light bulbs.
    At some point you need to stop thinking cheap and think smart.
    Im not sold on the whole climate change thing but i am smart enough to know that with 7 billion people on the planet we need to start thinking outside the box and get away from Fossil fuels as much as possible.
    I would install these in my driveway to help the planet even if it was just a drop in the bucket.
    a lot of drops can quickly become a flood.

    • Jeremy Janson says:

      Your sophistry makes your idea sound good, but it is no good, because the only advantage of a solar roadway as a design concept is the amount of land covered by roads and pavement. The most “efficient” in terms of power generation solar panels are vastly too brittle to be used on a roadway, as this article correctly points out, a roadway cannot track the sun, maintenance will be severely limited, and even a very hardy panel will likely not last as long as a rooftop equivalent. The ONLY reason solar roadways could ever work is because of the MASSIVE percentage of land in inhabited areas that is covered with pavement – even in high land value Silicon Valley 1/3 of the land is parking lots and roads. To put it simply, no one has a driveway that big, and even the hassle alone would prevent anyone from wanting to generate one lightbulb worth of power from their driveway.

  225. Jeremy Janson says:

    I was hoping to finally read an effective discussion of this proposal (which does not seem to have many details at all published about it) and was sorely disappointed to find something every bit as sophistic, emotionally driven and fallacious as what the supporters of a solar project would post:

    @1 & 2: When you look at cost-benefit, you need to look at COST AND BENEFIT, not just benefit. If you manage to make it 100 times cheaper in terms of long-term cost, the fact that it only collects 1/10 as much power does not means that it’s not the better proposal. Furthermore, the area covered by roads is much larger than the area covered by rooftops.

    @3: Every city has a road cleaning crew. That’s what those funny looking geovac trucks with the huge round rotating brushes you see on streets in the early-morning do.

    @4: Speaking of cost-benefit, has ANYONE bothered to state what the cost is? No, they haven’t, and while that certainly makes me suspicious of them, this article should be ASHAMED OF ITSELF for sinking to their level. Furthermore, considering how corrupt the entire green energy sector is (high-tech people often resent the green energy crowd for this reason), it may be that the reason they aren’t stating the cost of the project is because they are embezzling project funds for personal use, it which case it could still potentially be a sensible proposal from the design standpoint.

    Now I agree that the road-heating thing is a bit silly, and for more than one reason, but just because the other people are saying some silly things does not mean that the sun shines out your ass for disagreeing with them! If you will not be the voice of reason, than the fact that the other people are not just means that society is cursed twice over.

  226. Ian says:

    I am sad that someone who has managed to get a university to give them a PHD has such a closed mind and makes such little effort to understand what they are saying. Just to address a couple of your points…

    1. You can’t point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency (which is only about 15% for photovoltaics, anyway, which makes PV generation expensive on a large scale).

    It does not matter that you can’t track the sun. You only need to factor in the lower efficiency when you calculate the cost effectiveness. You have no cost analysis to back up you claims. Tracking is overvalued anyway. It is now less expensive to install more fixed PV panels than to to reduce the panel count and add a tracker. In addition, the tracker adds mechanical complexity and a significant maintenance and failure point to the equation.

    2. Why embed solar panels in such a harsh environment where they are constantly being run over and flexed by millions of tons of vehicles? There are many more practical locations to use (such as roofs, that face southward).

    Roadways offer a vast skyward unobscured view far greater than rooftops and openly available to the community for use. The other benefits of these panels make roadways an ideal location. By properly designing the panels that can be perfectly capable of supporting whatever load you wish to put on them.

    3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?

    You clean them. In the UK we used to keep the roads clean mechanically. We don’t do that any more but there is no reason why we shouldn’t. In any case, this is not an issue for the vast majority of the roads in the USA. The traffic density is relatively low and dirt buildup just needs to be factored in to the equation along with the cost of removing it where appropriate.

    4. Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?

    So you would rather give your money to the military and the oil companies? In any case, where are the figures and cost analysis projections on which you base this statement.

    In all, it is pretty safe to say that you are over 50, a republican, probably served in the armed forces at some point and have become very close minded. Go back to your university education and use careful analysis and an open mind before opening your mouth on subjects you obviously have little knowledge of.

  227. Jerry says:

    I’m pretty sure the snow melt is meant to occur when power is being pushed TO the panels, in the winter, on snowy days, whereas it will collect sunlight, on clear days.

    As for the positioning, who the hell cares? If they’re out in the open, they’ll collect sun, for at least part of the day.

    I can’t make any comments about the durability or cleanliness of the product, that’s what testing is for.

    As for the cost: the cost may or may not be more than the current cost of road construction, but, if these panels actually work, than they may pay for themselves, over time, (and maybe not).

  228. Your health doesn´t have a cost, and by the way, humans spend already 10 times that cost, in things that are killing us every day, think with your head if you have one, not with your wallet, if this was made in the first place, no one question this……

  229. Julie says:

    I’m a little surprised. For someone who claims to have a PH.D. You did not do any research into the subject before making a claim. Maybe you should have clicked on some of the links on your facebook feed before you just assumed what it was all about. So allow me to help you out here:

    1. No you can’t point the road towards the sun but you wouldn’t have to. If all the roads were solar roadways, when there’s a cloudy sky in one region the sun is beating down on another. It’s repurposing the roads that already sitting there attracting heat from the sun.
    2. Why embed solar panels in harsh environments? These are not your standard roof solar panels. They’re heavy duty and tested. Besides, solar panels on roofs are just a start. They’re talking about making all our roads and walkways like a giant solar panel.
    3. How do we keep them clean? How do the roads stay clean currently? With rain water and street cleaners. You worry about oil, but we need to get away from oil into more renewable resources like the sun!
    4. Who is going to pay for it? For now private investors. There are private investors currently working on privatizing trips to the moon. If more scientists focused, and promoted improving the earth instead of finding a way to get out of our doomed planet, the earth would be in better shape. Privatizing trips to the moon is a waste of money, and these solar panels have the potential to be very profitable.
    5. Have you ever been up north to wear it’s cold and ice roads are a problem? By your remarks I doubt it. The dark roads can’t absorb heat from the sun if there is snow on top of it. And when the snow does melt away as soon as the sun goes down all that water turns to ice which is more dangerous.
    If anything smells fishy it’s this website. You supposedly start this to make people aware of global warming, and yet the first idea in a while that may actually put us in the right direction you knock it down. Obviously, you do work in the wrong field, and i’m just being polite.

  230. Carmine says:

    Let me start by saying that the amount of solar energy that strikes the earth surface in less than 1 hour can power the world for one year.

    That said, the author’s arguments are old ones that I would like to address:

    1. You can’t point the roadway to track the sun, to improve energy generation efficiency (which is only about 15% for photovoltaics, anyway, which makes PV generation expensive on a large scale).

    You don’t have to face the sun since the most common angle for this application is perpendicular to the noon sun, the time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. is when the most solar energy is converted so this is best angle given the applications. And with amorphous solar cells although less efficient, the angle doesn’t matter since diffuse light is sufficient.

    2. Why embed solar panels in such a harsh environment where they are constantly being run over and flexed by millions of tons of vehicles? There are many more practical locations to use (such as roofs, that face southward).

    True, except that it is a known fact that if you calculate how much power is needed for our demand, there aren’t enough roofs to supply the surface area needed. So roadways and walkways would add the maximum amount of surface available. If they can withstand the flexing why not apply them? And nothing flexes forever. It’s a matter of how long before failure?

    3. How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them) so that sunlight can get collected by the embedded PV surfaces?
    You maximize the surface resistivity of particle adhesion through nano-material surface modified barriers. Remember these are modular so we can continue to improve them with more advanced replacements. And if necessary based on location, you clean them all periodically with electric powered vehicles.

    4. Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?

    This is an easy one. Everyone, like you do now for services necessary for our civilization, including roadways. Except for one thing, now our taxes are funding a depreciating expenditure while a solar roadway would be an investment with a payback so that at the least it would make the roadways self-funding and at the most even generate revenue.

    This is not the ultimate solution, but a damn good partial solution to the whole energy demand picture. The bottom line is that the technologies already exist that can be combined or applied in advanced ways to generate all the electrical power that is required by all of us for our daily needs. It’s just a matter of making the right choices and doing it, and at the same time closing the coal and fossil fuels spigot that continues to poison the earth.

    So the author is either poorly informed or disingenuous, or both.

  231. jay deal says:

    I have read almost all of the 644 comments in this thread and at the end of all that I am left with little to say besides:

    1) prototype is a great word everyone should look it up and understand that this is not a final product. Research and development, funding, approvals etc. It will be years before the first walmart parking lot is covered, and they won’t be the same panels. And that’s where it has to start, parking lots and sidewalks.

    2) efficiency vs profit vs cost.

    How efficient is burning coal or destroying tar sands for oil, how profitable is cutting down moons of acres of forest in south America, abd how costly is allowing the oil industry to continually dictate how we live.

    3) why you may not support this idea speaking negatively about it does not show your intelligence or rhetoric. It only magnified your ignorance and closed minded ideology. A doctor, an engineer, a politician, or whatever you may be it’s a step away from fossil fuels. Yes please.

    Some folks would rather build pipelines, drill the arctic, frack our national parks, damn hundreds of rivers killing millions of eco systems, and keep paying extorted prices for gas, oil, and electric. If you are one of these folks I urge you to watch a movie of a cannibal eating their young. If you don’t get the symbolism maybe your not informed enough to argue about this topic.

    I do not pretend to know the answers but I have researched alternative energy for years. We have had hydro vehicles since the early 90′s, solar since the 60′s, thermodynamic energy, wind energy etc. With so many viable options have you ever asked why oil and gas and more importantly who makes the money from it.

  232. Nothing Matters says:

    gay

  233. Mike says:

    instead of these “engineers” being all negative nancy about these solar roadways, and pointing out all the flaws in them, why don’t they work with these dudes and fix the flaws? Seems counter productive….

  234. Saphyriel says:

    I think the idea is valid. First off the current roads produce ZERO of anything useful. If these solar panels on the ground work at least as signals, thats better than what we currently have.

    Not to mention that to make those we dont need asphalt and they sure reflect LESS heat than current roads (a big deal if you are really a climatologist)

    The idea for play places and change from one sport to another IS AWESOME, its extremely useful in itself.

    Yes solar panels and arrays ideally “follow” the sun for maximum production , but currently the production of energy, from the current roads, like I mentioned, is ZERO , anything is better than that.

    As far as costs go, im sorry but asphalt and re painting and signaling eat up more money than those things do.

    To call other peoples ideas “silly” and question their background just because you disagree or see flaws in it its a sign of lack of necessary scientific distance. I’m always willing to see both sides of the arguments but the moment i see passionate and personal attacks that sound more like gossip and not really good willing criticism I second guess if there is any ulterior motive to such “criticism”

    • Jeremy Janson says:

      Yes, but we need NUMBERS, COSTS, DETAIL, and NO ONE, not the supporters, and apparently not the detractors either, are providing them.

  235. christy says:

    I am not so good with numbers, or statistics but what about just putting them on the interstates or highways that are what they call the “fly-over” states? I drove from Oregon, to Tennessee and back again, and I can honestly say that there is a LOT of wasted heat in those states’ roadways. Not traveled as much, but a LOT of sun. I blew a timing belt just past Hays, Kansas and sat on the side of the road awhile and I can attest to that.

    Love and light…literally

  236. Steve says:

    He’s absolutely right, it won’t work, for hundreds of really good reasons, just a few of which were mentioned. Go ahead and study it, go ahead and try to implement it. Yes it bothers me that crowd-sourcing this plays on peoples’ desire to take positive action but will accomplish nothing. :(

  237. Gary Warren (@OedipusTax) says:

    Unlike most of you, I bought a solar house (R-63 roof, R-36 walls, window quilts) with solar panels facing south.

    And in what state?

    Arizona? New Mexico?

    No, New Hampshire.

    And in what year?

    1984.

    There is nothing new about the positive fantasies of arrogant liberals on the subject of solar panels, not to mention climate change, or any other subject in which the arrogant liberal doesn’t have to put his money where his mouth is.

    My solar panels only transferred heat. They did not make electricity, which is VASTLY more expensive. The fact of the matter: government subsidies or not, the technology does NOT exist to make electric solar panels affordable for anything remotely related to the subject matter of this silly video.

  238. jim says:

    well all we need is someone smarter than the guy writing this article to solve any problems that are currently stopping us.and the cost….don’t we just print ink on paper and its money!!

  239. Isaac C says:

    I dont think that solar roadways would be efficient everywhere, but they would be great in places with low traffic and lots of sunlight like the southwest out in the interstate highways. The power collected could be used to light up some cities as a supplementary power source, or lights on the highways, but the cost doesn’t justify a full replacement of all paved roads.

  240. Bruce says:

    Thomas Edison started with an idea and if it worked we are using it or its modern version today. If an idea has merit it will stand on its own and people with vision will see its future practical applications. Change is slow and difficult but necessary because our fossil fuels will not last forever. The discussion here is practical and important to understanding while passion is important for spurring motivation to continue innovation and thought.

  241. HENRIX says:

    Not being offensive but.. PLEASE MAKE THIS SITE 404 not found. the future is coming and OIL companies will turn to dust

  242. TLM says:

    Okay. My issue with solar is where will the energy come from when the sun goes down? Energy storage systems are 25-30% efficient at best. In order to keep the grid stable it needs a CONSTANT steady source of generation. solar is anything but. Cloudy days seasonal changes cause large variations in output. not a good alternative.

    • IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

      The energy comes from wherever it’s being generated after the sun goes down.
      Solar roadways, solar roofs, and solar panels lining the road right-of-ways won’t produce all the energy we need but it’ll significantly reduce the dependence on fossil fuels & reduce the need for more fossil fuel generating facilities.
      As the sun comes up in the morning the power can flow to the west to feed areas not yet seeing sunrise and generation from it.
      As the sun sets in the east, the power can be fed back from the west, which is still generating electricity, to supply their needs for a few more hours.
      For the shortfall, current technology fossil fuel power generation can supplement the interim gaps in solar generating ability across the country.

      As for the need for batteries, that’s a non-issue.
      There is no need for batteries, EVER.
      Unless the system is producing an excess of power that cannot be used up by the entire country, which COULD then be stored for off-generation time periods, the grid will simply take what’s given and move it where it’s needed.
      At no point in time, under the current demand/production capacities, will solar ever be so plentiful that we cannot use it all while it’s being generated – hence no need for storage batteries EVER!

      It’s likely that as the available amount of solar generated power increases, demand will quickly rise to use that capacity – it’s the way we “civilized” humans are wired, we hate to see anything free going to waste and WILL figure out an application to use it all up.

      There will probably always be at least some need for additional power generation from other sources/fuels – even if there is enough excess during the daylight generation to justify building and maintaining a battery storage component to fill the after-dark non-generation periods from some sort of mass storage battery system.

      Those storage facilities don’t even have to be rare-earth batteries or any batteries at all. It could be stored as heat, in rock, and using heat-pump technology, recycled back out as heat or use the heat pumps to convert heat into air conditioning with ammonia cooling systems or electricity from thermal difference extraction processes – which is ALL currently being done with existing technology.

      Wind generators aren’t reliant on direct solar radiation either. There are plenty of places across the country where the reduced demands of night-time consumption could be fed from wind generation, which can be generated rain or shine, day or night, without regard for latitude or any more disruption than a little of the silence in a corn field – without any need for a current storage battery system.

  243. Nathan Dettweiler says:

    I believe solar panels work but have concerns about the intended application. I doubt they could melt snow as fast as it can fall in Canada.

  244. Sensible Engineer says:

    WOW !!

    It is amazing to me how many people think this is a Good Idea. Why would you run your 4000lb car, 6000lb truck or 50000lb big rig over a solar panel? That really is the stupidest thing I have heard coming from the ‘free’ energy crowd. If you are going to have solar panels then at least put them on the side of the road so the cars don’t block the panels and break them the first time they run over them.

    Maybe the reason people don’t put up solar panels is because of the high COST, even after the government(you and my taxes) subsidies.

    • IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

      Glass can be manufactured to withstand higher compression values than asphalt.
      Glass can be manufactured to be more impact resistant than asphalt.
      Glass can be manufactured to resist thermal expansion and contraction better than asphalt.
      Glass can be manufactured to provide a higher friction coefficient, (traction ability), than asphalt.

      Glass is in fact a pretty amazing substance, in case you’ve never noticed it being used in bullet-proof bank teller windows, safety crumble auto windows, (so nobody gets cut up in an accident),or deep ocean submersibles and spacecraft for windows.

      The best thing about all this specialty glass is it’s partially made from the same material asphalt is – sand.
      In fact highway construction and city roadways are currently using recycled glass to IMPROVE the durability of asphalt roadways as both a component of the actual asphalt itself as well as the sub-strata the asphalt is laid on initially, and has been for over 2 decades in some places.

      Recycled glass doesn’t absorb water and heave the way ordinary natural sand and limestone base materials do in freeze-thaw cycles during the winter or during the “explosive” expansion phase of blistering hot summer days when concrete roadways literally blow chunks into the air and occasionally take out a few windshields in the process.

      More than 15 Minnesota counties have used reclaimed glass as aggregate. While many different applications have been demonstrated in Minnesota and other states, the use of 10% blend for road base is the most common, well-proven and safe.

  245. LOL says:

    Why the fuck would you put solar panels for the cars and heavy trucks to run over? Put that shit somewhere else. Yeah, oil companies are messed up but this is no way close to being a best solution. And as for funding, if you can get Obama to stop wasting our tax dollars supporting wars and conflicts oversea, than maybe this can actually work. Good luck with that shit.

  246. DMA Portland says:

    Hahaha…I never thought about some of the points in this blog. Great job!

  247. Streaks says:

    I have a little something to add to the debate about solar units used in the winter. I worked for several years at a start-up solar roofing company. I’ve seen first hand that solar roofs at least, are pretty much winter-proof in that the snow/ice melts right off them. They generate some amount of waste heat as they operate and this melts the snow/ice. I don’t have exact numbers sorry. So, I would imagine that the same would apply to solar roadways.

    My worry is the surface. I don’t care what kind of glass it is made of, unless it’s the texture of a tennis court then it will be dangerous. Not everyone does the speed limit. And what about cops who must drive fast around corners now and then? Though, I’m sure the surface could be made with a rough enough texture to warrant solid traction, someone has to have thought of that right……right??

    I also am a bit skeptical of using them for runways. Maybe if the first quarter or so of the runway was traditional tarmac I could see it. But, a jumbo jet touching down generates a LOT of force into the surface it lands on so these would have to be able to withstand that.

    I’m really hoping this works and is proven a valid technology. Yes, I understand FULL well about the carbon footprint debate as I’ve dealt with it on my last job in the solar industry, if even in a small way. But, it has to start somewhere IMO. I don’t envision a magic wand *poof* overnight fix any time soon. SO, we have to start somewhere, solar is a good place to start IMO. What I personally would like to see is more money put into researching a BETTER methodology for solar cells that is more efficient so as to make solar MUCH more useful.

    And as to the detractors of solar roofs…..go pound sand. It works, I’ve seen it work. I’ve seen people living off the grid or at least at a minimum. I would LOVE to have a solar roof on our house! Our monthly bill is some $300-400!! Are there issues involved? SURE, is it something that can only get better? SURE! We have to start somewhere and rather than sitting on the side and sniping and nitpicking why not offer REAL ideas for solutions if you hate solar so goddamned much? I just get tired of all the armchair bitching. It really does help, it really does work. gah

  248. Badger Badger says:

    The sun is renewable energy forever. In your opinion, not cost effective. However, compared to every other form of energy, far cleaner and less expensive. The only thing you’ve done here is presented challenges. Perhaps in the actual implementation, a solar roadway is not the entire roadway, perhaps it is merely the shoulders, which answers your primary engineering objections. Nobody needs to point PV in order to benefit from them. The idea is brilliant, makes a ton of sense in the long term, and the only people who object to it are pricks and retards. That said, someone will have to justify the initial expense and early designs while the parasitic pricks and retards of the world have their moment of hurling fire at the sun.

  249. Antonio says:

    1- The friction coefficient for glass (even with a rugged surface) is far lower than for asphalt. Can you picture it with a little water on top? Cars would be spinning ballerinas… And glass also wears out much faster because it is more rigid and cannot absorb vibration the same way asphalt does..
    2- Although this type of glass can easily withstand the forces imposed by moving trucks and tractors, it probably cannot take the forces of impact created by a violent accident, such as a full loaded truck turning over, or maybe just pulling the brakes and locking the wheels. What happens then, when you’ve got a paralyzed jammed road, with hundred of these pavement cells completely smashed and possibly short-circuiting? And who can fix this effectively in a short time? And after the fix, will all the cells be perfectly aligned again?
    3- Noise levels. Some roads in Germany are having their asphalt changed for another type of asphalt just to reduce friction noise levels at about 7-10%. And asphalt is pretty smooth anyway. What happens when you change it for a cluster of independent cells set together with joints in between them? Result: NOISE. VERY ANNOYING CONSTANT PATTERNED NOISE.
    4- Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.

  250. dt0x says:

    This article is very deceiving. Let’s start with… The couple that designed this are actual engineers.

  251. Maurizio says:

    If nothing else someone is at least trying to do something for the future.

  252. Diane K says:

    Personally, good or bad or middle of the solar road, it is an idea. An Idea that someone is trying to make work. If it doesn’t work on the proposed grander scale, for now, it’s certainly a plus for smaller applications, for now, and for research purposes. Ya gotta start SOMEWHERE. It all starts with an idea. Remember the very first automobile? Who could afford that? And NOW, look where that IDEA has grown to. What’s the definition of INSANITY? Keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Naysay all you want, have you offered to help give direction? Do you have a better IDEA?

  253. Diane K says:

    I wonder how issues of ice heaves and earth movement would be addressed and adapted to. Earth tremors/shifts are frequent in the Northeast, and worse on the West Coast. Tornadoes, floods, droughts and hurricanes can wreak havoc… I don’t need to be an engineer to understand that the solar application can’t be applied Everywhere. The smaller scale has been applied for years, and has certainly progressed to being more affordable and energy-wise. So I ask WHY NOT?

  254. Keldon Westgate says:

    The fact that it is a popular idea and seems to have potential benefits should be enough. Technology will make it more efficient and cost effective. Why bash it? Wouldn’t you and your friend’s knowledge be better suited to making it better rather than tearing it down?

  255. Roy Cathey says:

    What happened to America? We were once a nation of explorers and risk takers. Now…instead of embracing new technology and advances in Science we have a segment of our populace that immediately disregard and ridicule new ideas. Thankfully…none of you were around to discourage Edison and others responsible for advances in our society.

  256. Beth S says:

    So maybe it has a lot of problems, but don’t you realize that the problem of global warming is even bigger! Until anyone else has a better idea that will work on such a vast scale and effectively produce millions of jobs, then i say yes to Solar Roadways.

  257. Barbara says:

    But also, how are we going to install solar panels on existing concrete/ paved roadways and sidewalks? Where will all the concrete go if it needs to be removed? And what the hell will they use as infill?

  258. Adam says:

    I’m not sure any of those points that you made actually make the roadways a “bad idea” you just brought up some great questions and problems for the engineers on this to think about.
    Giving a kid a gun is a “bad idea”. But giving a kid a hard puzzle isn’t a “bad idea” it just forces the kid to problem solve.
    The solar roadways are a very hard puzzle, yes there are problems and questions to be answered, but that doesn’t make them a “bad idea”.

  259. Tom says:

    Thank you for this. But there are a fundamental problem. the raw material for this idea is limited. The existing ressources world wide is not enough to realize it in one country.
    Why is Europe cutting the budgtes for solar energy? Why is after years only wind energy is cheap?

    This idea is STUPID.

  260. Argel Tellez says:

    All I have to say is, I just love how there is always some asshole bitching and complaining about what other people have come up with. If you can`t come up with something better, then shup the hell up and at least let someone else do it. If it is a scam then, still good for the smart ass people who did it and don`t be hater just because you were too fucking stuppid to think of it first…

  261. DreamCatcherPoet says:

    Hell, just put a bunch of Nuclear Reactors on the Moon Laser bean the Energy back to Earth to generate Heat for Huge Steam Turbines to Generate Electricity, LOL.
    Cost Effective???
    Maybe Someday. :-)

  262. Damien says:

    So many comments to read….
    the best criticism is the in regards to the location. I once had the opportunity to work with a company that was producing solar panels for rooftops instead of shingles. This would presumably require far less maintenance than cells on roadways. But even if this plan is totally ridiculous, and it may be, I’m thrilled innovators are trying… something. anything.

  263. Karlie H. says:

    This is definitely good information! I think you should work with them then. Work together with their concept and your knowledge to improve what issues that would negatively impact this concept would be instead of trying to shut it down completely.

    Instead of what seems to be snarky commentary, “except actual engineers” … who support this concept. Combining their knowledge with science and whatever else may be needed to create tasks is a much more effective route – help them instead of writing an article complaining about what they are doing wrong. A person does not always know what may be wrong unless they are assisted – negative publicity is not really the best way to tell them either.

    I think we all need to move forward together, combine our knowledge – the world is too vast and unknown for just ‘type’ of knowledge. For lack of a better way to explain it. Engineers, scientists – those who are truly educated and willing ARE more than capable of coming together to build and create.

  264. Incredible points. Outstanding arguments. Keep up the good
    spirit.

  265. Gus says:

    I agree with Damien. Something is better than nothing. At least this couple is putting forward a solution to a massive worldwide problem.

    If we sat back and listen to the pessimists of this world, we would not have solar,wind or hydro energy. We would still be living in the dark ages.

    Even if paving all the roads in the world with these panels is not possible, at least lets try it on a small scale with driveways, or footpaths.

    To knock the project down, will simply drive up electricity prices and keep us tied to fossil fuels. I dare say these so-called “engineers” who put this down this project and others like and on the payroll of the big polluters and energy companies of the world!!

    I reckon we give it a go and see before we pass comment in its feasibility.

  266. wolfingrey says:

    Okay let me get this straight. You don’t get how a surface that only returns absorbed heat melts less snow that a surface that is capable of generating it’s own heat? Seriously?

  267. Hills887 says:

    “How do you keep the solar collectors clean (as millions of tires scrub over them, and engines drip oil on them)”

    For this design to truly work, most cars and eventually all cars, would be converted to electric so there would be significantly less oil drippage since gas would not be an issue.

  268. James says:

    I have a feeling you didn’t think anything through or did any real research, did you?

    1. Solar panels are actually getting cheaper and more efficient, 15% would be a low end and for midday, it would be producing 25%-45% (perfectly perpindicular alignment can provide upwards of 60%) and with it all interconnected, that means there will always be enough power to light the roadways and homes in areas where the sun is unavailable (not to mention a likely battery backup station nearby). Also, the efficiency can be increased by using upcoming technologies and reflecting techniques (directing sunlight from mirrors to PVs can boost efficiency further well beyond the 50%-60% barrier in the right conditions). Also, the PVs used are of the latest technology and it appears that the glass surface is optimized by its bubble shape to provide a “magnifying glass” effect on the PVs
    2. The panels provide sufficient weight-bearing capabilities for most asphalt surfaces (they will start with lightweight surfaces like sidewalks, driveways, parks, parking lots, and weight limit roadways) and will most likely pass all DOT standards. Also, the hexagonal shape is no accident or whim, if you are a true engineer, you would see that.
    3. The glass panels will be a treated glass similar to skylight glass where it will use the sunlight to degrade organic-based material for water to wash away without effort. While this may still be a problem in drought areas, keep in mind that those roadways are less dense per capita and are most dense in towns and cities where streetsweepers can clean them in the morning, or they can be equipped to “cry” at night to wash away debris and particles. Also, if a panel is not fuctioning, it would alert the nearest station for cleaning/repairing/replacing as needed and they are all independent on each other like the cells on a PV panel operate independently of each other to provide efficient power throughout.

    4. They mention their business plan (or at least part of it) in their videos. They are starting small with residential and commercial/small-scale-civil projects to prove their product small scale and to provide capital for growth. They also can use the lighting capabilities to bring in revenue with fairs/events and to cut the cost of rerouting traffic equipment/deployment. Sure, the roads will have to be paid for by taxpayer money, but by then it will be paid by money saved in street cleaning, energy savings, glass recycling, town/county/state fairs/events, reduced road maintenance costs, reduced government owned repairs/cleanup for wrecks.

    Which brings another point:

    5. Better, quicker safety and rescue. Each plate is pressure sensitive which means that rescue personel can be immediately dispatched as a wreck occurs.

    Also:

    6. I live in central illinois and while the thermodynamics on a small scale hold true, you missed a few points of the big picture called “the real world”:

    A.) Roads still ice over in sunny winters, especially “white snow” that reflects most heat and light (again, both dangerous)
    B.) The entire power grid is integrated, so every panel will be heated electrically and minimal power would be needed for it (most southern states don’t drop below 40°F in winter)

    You fail to see this project’s potential on a large scale, it makes sense not just for energy, but also for business, infrastructure (as a whole), engineering, and safety. You are quite small minded in this subject. If you are an engineer, you are obviously either a poorly educated one or you just missed almost every small detail in your grand scheme to prove your point against it. Remember that many great life changers were once rebuked. The laser, for example, had no practical use when it was invented, but now it is being used to manufacture smaller computer chips, etch glass, cut steel, military missile defense, even play your favorite CD or game program. It’s benefits greatly outweigh the cons and hurdles to be overcome. I support this technological breakthrough!

  269. juan says:

    it all makes sense, it is posible, lets do it!!!

  270. studentiit says:

    As many suggest, why is a pilot project be implemented in a tropical country ( aided by an Environmental organization)to prove the efficacy of the concept and cost effectiveness. It is certainly a requirement if feasible.

  271. Sue says:

    Dear, Roy Spencer!

    The problems you brighten up are very useful! You are a very clever man. You should work with Scott and Julie Brusaw on the further developing project of the solar roadway panels.
    Thank you!

  272. Holger Fassel says:

    Most of the objections you voice (like tilting the panels towards the sun, dirt and why not roofs) are adressed on Solar Roadways’ page and in their FAQ.
    They are either not an issue or they are currently being worked on.
    This is a product in development, and of course there is no guarantee that it will be successful, but before you dismiss a new idea outright, at least take the time to read up on it. Otherwise you can’t complain for not being taken seriously.

  273. Mama bear says:

    Just curious if you’ve contacted the couple and talked to them about your concerns. They’ve been working on this for a while. Maybe they’ve already overcome all your objections.

  274. Tim Gorham says:

    The proof will be in the putting. My guess is that not a single one of the proponents in this comment chain will shell out the money to do their own driveway.

  275. Really. says:

    All this person has done is has scrutinize the project proposal in terms of feasibility . This is a natural part of any project before continuation. By now means has he ever questioned the rational or intent. This project is a proposed solution, not an answer to our current problems with atmospheric concentrations. A FAQ is not a fact sheet, the best evidence they can provide is a peer-reviewed paper to fill in the gaps of knowledge, until such time any EVIDENCE based argument is of some value.

    Yes it is risky but might have unknown applications in the near future in other areas as some studies do. If you wish to argue do so with evidence not emotion, science has no room for emotion only evidence and logic.

  276. Oliver says:

    1. No but they will work at 12! and the gain by aiming solar panels at the sun inst as much as would have thought, it just improves the efficiency a bit but if you can like on a roof you may as well
    2. The new proposal has been improve from original design by that they use new types of glass not just glass straight out of your windows onto the road.
    3. Believe it or not normal roads need to be cleaned as well by road sweepers so it would not be that bad unless you decide to start drifting on them, and look in a show room when they move a car in there barely have to clean the floor if at all.
    4. Well admittedly that one is true but if someone is willing to fork out i would thank them
    5. rather than being black to absorb heat which btw in winter when snow fall there is not much of, instead it uses the energy generated by the solar panel to power a low power heating element just enough to keep them clean, this way is far more effective

  277. myslef says:

    Here is a simple test for the viability of solar power. Stop funding it with taxpayer money. If there is a market for it it will go. If there are bad ideas out there they will go belly up.

    So if there are benefits to making a solar roadway let these guys find investors and test it out thoroughly. Why make the taxpayers take risks that anyone with a bit of money and common sense will not do?

    • IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

      Indeed.
      We should never have used tax money to start an internet infrastructure, or a national interstate highway system, or the Hoover dam, or the International Space Station and the shuttles that used to supply it, or the Hubble telescope, or about 100 other massive projects I could list in less time than it takes me to actually type them all out.

      That has to be the single most asinine comment I’ve yet read on this entire page full of comments by some genuinely thoughtful cognitive minds on both sides of the debate.

      Oh yeah brah, CAPITALISM is the ULTIMATE solution. Let the “free market” do it, or it ain’t worth doing.
      Gawd, kriest, baby JaZUZ on a popcycle stick – do the dogmatic sheep of capitalism never stop bleating their pizzle-down bullshight?

  278. Kevin says:

    Regardless of the success of these panels as roadways, I like that there are people using technology and creativity for ideas that are outside the box. Most of the naysayers for this kind of effort are people with vested interests, those who are not willing to accept new ideas, or experts so afraid of being duped that they can’t accept that someone else might have and idea that they haven’t thought of or figured out how to monitize. If even half of the applications for this technology are realized, I consider it a very positive development. Millions of dollars are being wasted as I type this, on lobbyist-written subsidies for the dirty coal and oil industries, millions of dollars are being spent on military planes and weapon systems that do not work or have been over-budget since the day they were approved, and wireless communications systems that use the public bandwidth for profit to barely regulated monopolies. If this turns out to be a scam, then my donation is a smaller price than my government pays for liars, thieves, and pirates to earn legally in a single hour every day.

  279. Vladislaw says:

    It is comical. Big oil has been getting subsidies in land use, tax breaks, direct subsidies, for refineries, pipelines, drilling, keeping miles per gallon standards low in autos so they use more gas, roadways … man you name it and big oil has gotten paid by uncle sugar. For over a CENTURY big oil has been eating on the taxpayer’s dime. How much? Over a trillion, add in natural gas, coal, nuclear power…

    then this clown, this paid shill for exxon, has the guts to write gosh who’s going to pay for it .. the taxpayer

    what a clown, the taxpayer is paying BILLIONS every year to an industry with record profits and pays virtually no taxes.

    As an EX NASA scientist you would think this clown would be just chomping at the bit to get the material science guys involved and I N N O V A T E new translucent materials for roadways. I guess this clown has never heard of the economic term ECONOMY OF SCALE .. gosh .. funny how prices for things are basically pretty cheap when that concept is applied.. you know .. like how cheap, in realitve terms, fossil fuels are. I wonder if this clown knows that government subsidies by the TAXPAYERS allowed all those fossil fuel companies to reach economy of scale and lower prices thanks to the trillion in taxpayer subsidies… did it make the country cleaner? The water cleaner? the Air cleaner?

    Heaven forbid we stop subsidies for ALL fossile fuels and give those same subsidies to solar and wind for the next CENTURY and lets see what happens.

  280. Connor says:

    You’re just mad you didn’t think of it. Don’t put down world changing ideas because your PhD hasn’t gotten you anywhere else other than writing these stupid posts.

  281. john j says:

    It will kill to many Jobs , Labor Unions will lobby against it

  282. joel says:

    I am tired of negativity from peoples with PHD and no logic and here it’s why …..
    Years ago a company was going public, A client approached me and asked me if I had any money to invest , I replied yes , he named the company , that night stuck in traffic on there was a talk show , a bunch of peoples with more PHD and degrees than a dictator has medal on his chest were debating the issue , coming from the greatest universities or businesses , I remember very well , there is no market for it , it will be too costly , they will never be able to do 3d at a reasonable price to sell it to the masses , etc etc , there was only one Guy without tons of degrees which simply said , “you see that company will change the world …there was a lot of laugh about it . That Company was Microsoft , and not happy to have completely missed the Boat they went on the same tirade on Apple IPO.
    All your degrees are meaningless if you cannot see the obvious , anyone on this board not using a smart phone , a lap top or computer ……Solar roadway can work .

  283. Petemeados@yahoo.com says:

    You know, for an engineer, it’s seems like you don’t have much of an imagination, which I think would be sort of necessary to come up with solutions to common problems. I mean the problems you mention seem rather trivial and easy to solve.

  284. Maria says:

    I would rather the U.S. spend money on this, than a war, and giving the countries money away to help other countries, and over paying government officials, sports players, etc.

  285. Debra says:

    No matter the engineering and implementation challenges, this is thinking outside of the box on a grand scale! I respect anyone who can think so boldly. All of you naysayers should put your brilliant minds to helping solve the challenges rather than just pointing out the issues.

  286. Annette says:

    What about snow? Sure the pads would melt ice but the amount of snow we got this winter plus the cold would be a major problem for roadways.
    I personally see home driveways and sidewalks being the way to go. The government will mess this up so go to the private sector.

  287. Travis Casey says:

    Years from now people will look back and say, “remember that time when Facebook broke out all of Dr. Spencer’s climate blog?” Dr. Spencer, I don’t what you did or how this connected with so many people who never heard of you, but it is a case study in blog marketing.

  288. Dan says:

    1. Given the size of America the vast network of roads sizzling in the sun, the Nevada Desert solar plants to bolster any potential short fall. The loss of not directly pointing the cells at the sun is minimal. Additionally with all houses converted to the same panels facing southward would add to production. As more research would continue and efficiency of the cells increase this issue diminishes.

    2. The glass used here has been tested to withstand the pressure of 250,000 tonnes of weight that’s a lot of pressure testing.

    3. If the cells do require cleaning and maintenance that’s more jobs bring made out of this enterprise.

    4. PAY – US tax dollars are being used everyday to fund roads, toll booths are a tax. Without expensive pot hole repair, reduced gritting, the expense of shipping tar and asphalt materials/labour, upkeep of power lines the money currently spent on these would just move to new system; a new industry infact. The US would be world leaders in Green sustainable energy.
    Also you’ve acknowledged that crowd sourcing is being used here; with the money people would save on future fuel bills an increase in any tax seems worth it – overall a families out goings would reduce.

    5.(ish) I agree the trapped heat/snow issue does raise a problem that I’m interested to see the solution explained BUT not sufficient reason to actively disregard a simple, genius idea.

    If any issue faces this endeavour it’s Light pollution whilst LEDs do not disrupt the air as traditional lightbulbs it would still be a lot of light shining straight up. Saying that overall reduced CO2 emissions would make sky’s clearer so swings and roundabouts.

    I’d love to see this in the UK and Europe but with our weather it would be tough to sell.

  289. Neil says:

    First, I initially thought that these solar panels looked like a good idea but I now see the enormous issues with regard to price, efficiency, and degradation (among other issues).

    That said, I do believe the “melting snow” issue may be less severe than your article indicates. When snow falls on energy absorbing asphalt, the surface becomes white and energy reflecting. Therefore, you have to compare heating via solar panel vs heat absorbed when surface snow is present. I would assume that, via battery or capacitance, one can store energy from the solar panels and release that energy into the panels after snow buildup resulting in enhanced melting which could create credibility with regard to the melting of the snow. After the snow is melted, the solar panels would work again replenishing the lost stored energy. On the negative side, it does take quite a bit of energy to break down the crystal structure of ice and snow to melt it (high heat capacity factor!!).

    On another issue, I noticed from pictures that the panels are really, really thick. Therefore, to replace road, the road would need to be removed probably to a depth of 6-12 inches which would probably be prohibitively expensive (besides other expenses). Solar panels for roads would be better if there were some strong/THIN alternative that would not become loose on use!!

  290. Gary Dell says:

    Roy, I don’t think all sunlight transmits heat. Isn’t that only infrared? Solar panels use photons to make electricity. So there is indeed more power in the sun’s rays than simply the infrared & solar panels capture a lot of it.
    I think the jury is still out, though, on how sensible it is to make glass roads. What about vandalism by anti-solar morons?

    • Neil says:

      All frequencies of light encompassing sunlight transmit heat through absorption. Black objects pretty much absorb just about all frequencies of light including visible, UV, and Infrared.

  291. Jonathan Sherry says:

    Here’s just a handful of the flaws I see in this idea.

    1) Grit and grime infiltrating panels and ruining them, increasing costs and replacement cycles.
    2) Traction on glass???? Come on!
    3) Super-heavy tractor-trailers going across them all the time. Asphalt starts to show wear in 3 years, how long can these last?
    4) HACKERS!! Suddenly you’ve got lanes changing so people are put on a collision course with one another.
    5) HACKERS!! Someone turns ALL the LEDs on at night, good luck driving or sleeping.
    6) Precious metals. Where will we get all those rare earth metals required without having to pay the Chinese through the nose?
    7) Theft. You think people steal copper?? Wait til these show up and start being pilfered. Hexagonal potholes anyone?
    8) Electrocution. All it takes is one bad panel and that guy changing his tire in the rain is toast.
    9) Maintenance. Who’s going to be the poor schlub who has to clean out all the crap that drops and dribbles between the panels into the area below?

    And personally I’d LOVE to see the pressure sensitive roadway that can take a hit from a boulder and still report anything.

    And for anyone who might think I’m some troll in the pocket of Big Oil or some such nonsense, I’m not. I’m an IT analyst who works for a chemical company and knows very well what goes into making something like this, and how quickly “ideal” conditions degrade once you put something out in the field. And an interstate is about as degrading an environment as I can imagine.

    • Milo says:

      Jonathon that is a very true statement and those set of flaws are very real and a potential for failure. I too would love to see it happen and go ahead. It is people like you they will employ to counteract these flaws making a possibility of it working. I would hope it does all work and actually gets used somewhere as the need for change is long overdue.

    • IdioT_SavanT_i4 says:

      Eh, how many boulders are falling on roads in TX, AZ, NV, NM, KS, NE, IA, SD, ND, MT, WT, IL, MS, LA, or pretty much anywhere in the US there are no mountains anyway? – which happens to be a considerable swatch of American territory, incidentally.
      How much rain is falling on roads in the Southwest, or in the South for that matter, these days, when drought is the watchword throughout those areas?

      OK – so nix all the areas with an excess level of rainfall, and all the areas where boulders lie in wait for unsuspecting motorists, (and glass roadways), to pass by – and yer STILL left with one hella lotta acreage to do a little solar power making all day long.

  292. johan says:

    of course the people who disagree with this great Idea have no idea how to change the future to a better and cleaner future. all they care about is how much it will cost and the silly contentions that the technology won’t work, people like this will never move forward with innovation or new ideas they are blinded by greed and are paid to disprove this great idea and most of the public will believe them. electric cars , solar panels of every conceivable kind and clean energy, is our future, the sooner we realize our future the better off this planet and it’s people will be…………..

  293. nick w says:

    The video clearly answered a lot of the questions you’ve brought up here. 1. Even though they cannot track the sun, the sheer amount of panels involved by replacing however many roads will morebrhen compensate for that fact. 2. The panels themselves were constructed of durable temperature d glass which was designed to handle the heavy loads of large vehicles and millions of cars. 3. Because of the money that will be saved elsewhere because of what these panels are designed for there would most likely be jobs created for people to clean these panels. And yes it shows that while these panels are running, theybrun at a temperature that is constant above freezing by design so there for they are giving off heat as they work.

  294. ryan says:

    We can all point out thing wrong and right with this idea. But the idea is not in its final stage so to say this is how it works when it’s not even finished is invalid. The points given have merit and face behind them but if you look at the panels for the road way and ones for your roof they look different so who is to say they don’t collect different. They are not flat panels they bend light inward and when you have light from mutable side coming into one spot the light generates more as a focal point than a surface. As for heating the panel how your backs window in your car defrost ice with electricity so it’s not new idea to heat glass to melt ice. Until all the numbers are tallied we will never know what they real outcome is only speculate with the technology we use now.

  295. Josh says:

    To argue whether or not this project is economically feasible is circular reasoning at its worst. It would be as though one actually believed our current situation is maintainable – which is of course ridiculous. I agree there are some blatant flaws with this plan, however, its ingenuity is preferable compared to the system we presently hemorrhage money into. Conservatism has its role to play, but all of this post peak-oil rhetoric needs to cease. Instead of blathering corporate propaganda, these great minds could unite to meet some realistic goals. That being said – the shortsightedness of fossil fuel endorsers is astonishing. Stop shooting down every presented attempt at tackling this issue, because there is a problem whether one chooses to believe it or not. ‘Solar Roadways’ may not be the solution, yet it seems increasingly plausible when contrasted with the stagnation and indolence of modern environmental practices.

  296. Steve Essary says:

    What a lame response to a very good idea. Where is your answer to world issues? Maybe you have some good ideas. Try sharing them with these inventors. They might need your expertise if you really have any. But it is much easier to criticize, huh? I’m sure these dumb asses didn’t think of any of the problems that you so quickly came up with in 5 minutes. Be part of the solution!!! Or give back your PhD. Gag

  297. K. Mueller says:

    If in doubt about the project, pleas read the FAQ:
    http://solarroadways.com/faq.shtml
    They cover your concerns.

    Kind regards,
    K. Mueller

  298. Lisa Leavitt says:

    I’m a skeptic on about everything … what about we try it? Make a 1/4 mile in a few different areas of active roadway in different climates and see how it goes before we start patting ourselves on the back because we think it will or won’t work — even mom’s have to work out recipes in a kitchen. If the 1/4 mile areas are a success add a few more to a few more areas … then make 1/2 miles … add a few more … success and valid? — Then go for it.

  299. Ola Moses says:

    I have patiently read everyones responses and it is interesting to see the amount of interest generated. The issues from cost, viability and the writers credibility have all surfaced from many different angles. I will add my 2 pence then. The tech may not be here to combat the issues of snow and tyre markings and any the others. But if anyone remembers the old school laptops, their capabilities, and cost in the late 90′s then those arguments will become void beacuse as long as people are willing to “dare to dream” the tech will improve and get better. The idea of giving up because it is too difficult or costly is both cynical and short sighted in a 2world where the lack of action is unacceptable. So for those without funds to help out and equally nothing positive to add, I suggest you consider some other opportunity that you could possibly bring forth to help humanity and then possibly we will support you. But to do nothing and say so much about the difficulties of doing nothing is both counter productive and really silly in this present age, in or out make a contribution of growth not one that promotes defeaticism.

  300. Paul says:

    I’m sure this will be one of many solutions to the problems we face on planet earth. I hope our politicians and populace are smart enough to look at a variety of technologies with varying paybacks and effcienceies. This solar roadways might be a niche player or it might be a big player in the future- we don’t know. The issue of toxiicity of the panels should be part of the discussion not just simply energy efficiency or cost savings. We need smart people in government making logical decisions about investing in new technologies. Piezo electric is also being tested as an alternative energy generator for road ways. So far we know that solar is not the answer for a whole country because of toxicity, efficiency, cost, variability, maintenance and storage. If we can learn from the German model a totally integrated system is better than a single model of energy production. Wind towers that don’t turn, the sun that doesn’t shine 24 hours, fossil fuels that produce co2, nuclear that produces waste, hydro that disrupts fish populations, etc. There’s a downside to every technology so lets examine each one critically and see which does the best for the economy, the environment and the people.

  301. Stephen says:

    All,

    I think everyone is missing the point. Real or not this idea spurs passionate debate and is proof that everyone is ready for real change, other than the those that profit from oil.

    It also gets people thinking about the best way to make the change to something better. As far the solar roads go, it is a nice concept but I do see some issues as far as productivity Vs expense. Billboards and street signs may be a better solution but vandalism and parts theft could be another concern if parts are valuable.

    I think a more realistic concept of generating power from roadways would be from the weight of vehicles passing over pressure plates using similar technology to this kids idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc4CD1aEFwE. It would only need to be placed on common driving surfaces not the whole road and could be made to last much longer. I am no engineer just like thinking…

    ANYWAYS… Keep up the debate and good ideas! Just keep it positive and productive. We are all in this together after all.

  302. Ryan Farnham says:

    So lets see how disinformative your article is on this.
    For someone who is a Scientist or so they claim and a Doctorate at that you have quite a few assumptions.

    Problems as you listed, my answers:

    1> The road is designed with a prism traction area which brings and focuses sunlight in from all directions as they them selves explained.

    2> The panels have been extensively tested in multiple laboritories across the states and surpassed 250k pound load testing, ripped the traction machine boot off far surpassing traction requirements including asphalt.

    3> Once a week cleaning or even every other week with a truck that drives around with pressure washers can keep up with that, also, add in chemicles that turn oils into powder form that blow off the road as traffic drives over them. This is also a future minded project with the knowledge that we will be moving away from petroleum based engines, but as most nay sayers are stuck in the present or past and not think of the future.

    4> This one is a valid point, however with payment programs or buy a panel at a time ability, one doesn’t have to go all or nothing like so many people think, this is something not meant to be rolled out all at once even on a small scale, a few panels to get your parking lot started, then buy more over time as it pays it’s self off.

    And your last point about the snow melting, you didn’t get that it pulls power from the grid and now from the solar panels for that right? It uses grid power in northern areas to power 30W (currently) heating elements under the glass keeping the panels at about 35 degrees F.

    So why not actually do a bit of research before criticizing someone without backing up your statements with counter Science, or are you even a real Scientist? You not aware of the Scientific method? You are by FAR much more likely a fraud than the solar roadway creators or you are just a lazy or paid for by oil Scientist doing a disservice to Science.

  303. B.J. says:

    You say that engineers would agree with you, but you also suggest that there are all sorts of practical problems with this.

    Well, that is what engineers do: solve practical problems… After watching the video and reading into it more, the ONLY problem I agree with you on is the suggestion that these tiles can eliminate snow. You are right when you say a majority of the suns energy is converted to heat when it hits tarmac, so if only a portion of that energy is converted to heat (as with the tiles), there is no way it would melt the snow.

    However, these tiles would be connected to the grid and, when needed, could simply turn on their heating elements in place of sending out squadrons of snow plows.

    The video stated that these tiles meet all requirements for pressure and weathering and I’m sure they can be cleaned in the traditional street-cleaner fashion.

    I, personally, believe these tiles would be beneficial to everyone. They would produce a little bit of clean energy, but would also provide us with a “smart” road that could potentially be connected to the smart cars of the future. The technology could be used for many, many beneficial purposes aside from producing electricity.

  304. Paul says:

    Just a question. Have you thoroughly researched solar roadways from top to bottom before posting your commentary?

  305. roman says:

    That is so cute, I would of never thought of that. I am definitely making me one or maybe a few! Lol

    a href=”http://pwrlogix.com/”>energy audit

  306. Hunter says:

    This has produced a serious amount of web traffic… too many comments to actually read all of so I am probably re-stating someone else’s comment.

    From what I gather, you, the author are a well-qualified leader in your field. And I feel that a post like this questions your position as a leader and as an engineer. True leaders should not put forward problems without providing solutions. Solar panels on roofs is not a solution to the problem, the problem brought forwards is the idea that “roadways” could be, and likely should be better utilized with the growing technological advancements humans are dreaming up on a daily basis.

    Instead a leader in a field such as yours should be intrigued by the possibilities, understand the potential risks, and then using your creative engineering brain, dream up potential solutions to those risks even if those solutions “seem” out of reach at this time. Offer potential solutions to the very rigid issues you stated, don’t be part of the problem.

    I agree that some of your points are likely valid but every point you identified can easily be expanded on with a “but if we…” “it might be possible to…” ex. “Siphoning energy from panels would mean there would be less heat energy available to melt snow…” “but if this technology as a full grid (including roof solar panels, facing south) produced a surplus of energy, then the siphoned energy loss may not be an issue, and given that snow and ice does not actually fall 24/7 this drain in power to melt snow ice would only be temporary and maybe once panel #1 melts its snow/ice, it can help panel#2.

    I would love to see another post where you tried to rebuttal your own identified problems with well-thought out solutions that could “potentially” solve the problems you identified.

  307. Max says:

    Like Hunter, I may be reiterating someone else’s comment.

    I am a supporter of the Solar Roadways project. I came here searching for arguments against the project in order to temper and refine my opinion of it. After reading your arguments, I am not swayed. Here’s why;

    While some of your technical questions are worth considering (photovoltaic efficiency, dirt/oil, durability), it may have been worth your while to look on the project’s FAQ page. Although it is not possible to put exact data on some the questions raised at this early stage, you may find it helpful. If nothing else, the FAQ may help you to refine your argument.

    Here’s a link: http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml

    If you have a concern that is not addressed there, you should contact the Brusaws about it. They’re very busy moving forward with the project, but I’m sure they’ll respond to a relevant argument.

    You expressed a concern about funding, asking “Who is going to actually PAY for such an obscenely expensive enterprise (other than government, which means you, the taxpayer)?”

    Their Indiegogo campaign closed after crowd-funding 2.2 million dollars (well over twice their target, remarkably). Furthermore, I understand that they expect to see this technology implemented by businesses and homes long before it sees widespread public funding. While I would expect state, county, or city-owned roads implementing this technology would be funded by tax dollars (of course), it would probably be put to a vote first. I would hope so, anyway.

    This concept is far too large to be put into practice all at once. Taking baby steps over time will determine its efficacy. I hope that it proves to be as effective and revolutionary as the Brusaws are optimistically projecting, and that one day even you are convinced.

  308. Erik T says:

    I am amazed to see how people, like the owners of this website, realize something so “freaking awesome” actually to be “freaking bad”. Society should thank these people. Obviously, they thought things through. Similar to Thunderf00t, they made the math, they made experiments and use our God-given human intelligence to realize this Solar Roadway is bogus. I can’t believe how dumb I was myself. Luckily, I did not donate money and I felt something wrong. However, I had to substantial facts to support my opinion. These people here do have supportive arguments why this Solar Roadway is a bad idea.
    Ultimately, this solar roadway thing is a hoax/scam. When you go on their website, indeed you cannot find “numbers” regarding their projects. By now, the founders of this solar roadways should make a statement regarding the discovery of their scam. They are not arguing back.
    Had anyone noticed that the Wikipedia page regarding solar roadway are copy/pastes and doesn’t give numbers neither – oh wait… I can explain why.

    Once again, Roy W. Spencer, Ph.D. We need more people like him.

    Sincerely,

    Erik

  309. D.Cole says:

    Some calculations regarding heating roads in the winter.

    Assumptions:
    A “Sunpower” solar panel can produce a maximum 230W over a 13sqft area. If we assume the panel is at peak production for 4 hours every winter day (pretty optimistic given the sun angle, clouds, trees, parked cars, etc), then the panel will produce 920Wh (Watt-hours) over a 24 hour period. If we assume that the average winter temperature is -5 degrees Celsius (23 deg F) and that the panel must be kept at a temp of +1 degree C (34 F) to melt snow, ice etc, there is a 6 degree C temp difference.

    Convective heat transfer from a glass plate:

    Q = hc x A x dT

    Where
    Q = heat transfer in Watts
    dT = 6 degrees C
    hc = 50 W/(m^2K) (convective heat transfer coefficient for moving air)
    A = 1.21 m^2 (area per 230W solar panel. Equivalent of 13 sqft)

    Q = hc x A x dT
    Q = 50 x 1.21 x 6
    Q = 363 W

    So 363 Watts are required to keep the panel above freezing in -5 deg C air. Over 24 hours this becomes 8,712Wh.

    Energy produced per day: 920 Wh
    Energy consumed per day: 8,712 Wh

    To make this perfectly clear, the 13 square foot section uses almost ten times more energy than it produces in winter conditions. This does not take into consideration windy days or energy required to melt snow or ice, only to maintain the surface temperature in cold air.

    For those who say the energy can be imported from other areas, you can see that you will need a great deal. How far will this energy have to travel? Transmission losses in low-voltage lines can be significant.

    Other questions I can think of:

    1. How is energy stored at night? Batteries?

    2. Where do all the raw and processed materials come from to make the batteries, PV cells, and microchips? Is this any less harmful than extraction of petroleum products? How is this stuff disposed of?

    3. The losses to invert the DC to AC may also be significant.

    4. Cost? If you think concrete/asphalt is expensive, solar roadways would essentially pave the road with microchips, LEDs, load sensors, control circuitry, batteries, etc in addition to the still-required gravel or concrete base. How much $$ are rechargeable AAs at your corner store? What about microchips or LEDs?

    5. If optimized roof-mounted solar panels are only economical using government subsidies and require 100% back up grid power from hydro/nuclear/gas/coal, how will solar roads work?

    Solar roadies, please help me out here.

  310. Andyj says:

    Dr. Spencer is attacked on a personal basis for not liking these road panels by rather ignorant and peculiarly stupid individuals. I suggest they make these themselves to prove their point first.

    I’ve been an engineer most of my working life and if it was put to me to solve the engineering issues in order to make these work as envisaged and “pay their way”. I’d sit the boss down and tell him straight. It would be easier to plait turds for a living.

    There’s plenty of roadside verges that could be used outside of crash zones for ordinary panels. Including covered pedestrian walkways. That would be nice!

    As goes lane indication. What is wrong with reflective glass beaded paint?

    Starting with the glass surface.
    http://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/20140513182652-Glass_-_big_piece-640×426.jpg

    Can you imagine the tyre noise!!! I’d not use these with pedestrians in cold and wet conditions either. Never mind the basic fact hexagons are a wasteful shape to produce and fit and far more energy intensive than Tarmacadam. He hasn’t got his drilled holes in either. There are bolts to hold these panels down on to concrete; yes, one of our most CO2 productive industries.

    I’m stopping here. There’s so many issues with this my mind is going into overdrive.