David Papp Blog

Solar Roadways

Solar Roadways are another great application of technology in every day life. The people behind it completed a very successful crowdfunding campaign raising over 2 Million dollars on Indiegogo. Solar Roadways are a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks and can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, and playgrounds. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. They have many other features as well including: heating elements to stay snow/ice free, LEDs to make road lines and signage, and an attached cable corridor to store and treat stormwater as well as providing a path for power and data cables.


37 thoughts on “Solar Roadways”

  1. Is it me or do the people behind the video really not want to be taken seriously? I think it could have been presented better. The idea is great and I encourage the growth of a field that was/is in decline. The last time I read about the solar industry it was not looking so good.

    Our future is unpredictable and I am glad they are making a positive change.

  2. Kudos for solar electricity! And yes I’m serious, as a society becoming obsessed with technology on all scales and age groups, I think we need some kind of energy alternative to help out . So far the idea of the panels sound great, now lets hope they can bring it to all communities and within a reasonable price point.

  3. I’ve never heard of anything remotely similar to this, but it certainly is an interesting though. Hopefully it comes around sooner rather than later as you never know how well it could add up. Fortunately, much of the world is becoming more conscious of the importance of renewable energy.

    That said, I’m also hoping for a day when we can get rid of powerlines in general and move towards something else.

  4. Wow! Solar panel roads. Boy, did we need those roads this past winter.
    You wrote, “They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.” I believe this will be true. How could it not be true. The cost of implementing solar panels on businesses, houses, and roof tops of cars has plummeted.

  5. We certainly need energy alternatives and we need them quickly. This is quite impressive to see how quickly Solar Roadways is going from the “cool idea” stage to implementation. The mere fact that they were able to reach their goal on Indiegogo so fast I think is quite significant. That’s encouraging to see the public rally behind them.

    It’s also exciting that they are getting so much exposure and publicity. Being invited to the White House Maker Faire must have been quite exciting for them.

  6. This is very great. I suggest we all collaborate together and start building this, especially in third-world countries. The current power crisis is very huge and the country where I come from has frequent power outages due to lack of proper power generation facilities. I am sure that this type of roadways would really help combat the power crisis. Besides, we will get better roads. Solar receptors are expensive, but they will be valuable in the long run. It’s high time we think about alternate energy resources as we are running out of fuel supplies very fast and solar energy will help us a lot in our electricity issues.

  7. It looks like traditional energy companies might be in trouble if this one takes off. Seems like such a brilliant idea. It would be really convenient if they could install small device recharging posts along the highway. And what charging stations for electric cars.? This one does have legs, or perhaps I should say wheels.

  8. Even if they can resist the weight of heavy trucks I can imagine how difficult it will be to give maintenance to these things. I am not against it, but do they really have to be on the road? Why not on the sides of a road or above them like if they were tunnels. Eventually these things may wear out with the years because of all the friction caused by the wheels of vehicles, but if they were positioned like I mentioned I bet they would last longer.

  9. Hear about this idea years ago and it’s a really exciting development! The only thing I wonder about is the lobbying pressure electricity companies might put upon the government against it with no counter lobbyists. Further the larger economic structure – if you produce enough electricity, then it becomes kind of free – which would be great if we lived in sharing societies and just wanted to share resources. But in a capitalist structure if electricity becomes too cheap, then it does not pay for the roads eventually needed repairs, does it? Further the electricity sector might simply go under (there are a heck of alot of roads out there!). What I’m trying to say is this, while it seems a good idea (and under certain principles of generosity, it IS a good idea), basically threatens to disrupt the status quo – and like the global financial meltdown, when the status quo goes down, it likes to take the rest of us with it!

    Which is to say this is a POWERFUL idea!

  10. This is very interesting. I’ve never heard of anything like this, although during the winter I have wished for something to heat up the icy walkways. We recently had a tech come to our house to discuss solar panels and I’m starting to see places around town use renewable energy sources whereas in the previous years I’d only seen it at Whole Foods! There’s an organic supermarket down the road from my house that is entirely run on solar panels. I really had no idea they could power such large buildings, much less a road system. This is really fascinating. I just wish the prices were a bit better, although I understand in the long run its more affordable but that upfront cost is a killer.

  11. Solar freakin roadways!
    OK, enough of that. I, for one, can’t wait to see this. My city still has above-ground power lines. These power lines love to get knocked over when branches fall off mature trees which happens every time the wind blows. I have read on another page that burying power lines may cost quite a chunk of change per mile, but if it is done in conjunction with a project like this the return on investment should justify the project.
    It just needs to start somewhere…maybe Chicago with roads so bad KFC wanted to patch their potholes. Or maybe somewhere with adequate sunlight such as AZ or NM to generate enough power to help pay for future cities down the line.

  12. Wow. This looks exciting. But I agree, the video looks like a bunch of high school enthusiasts made it. Anyway, this is exciting. Have you guys heard about the smart highways of Norway that glow in the night?

  13. This could definitely solve the world’s energy crisis several times over and help us reduce pollution and other harmful effects to the environment. Sadly, this won’t be widely applied in our lifetimes…the energy businesses, particularly oil, is pretty unforgiving. They’ve got too much power to let something that could hinder their business model like this come to pass, even if it’s for the good of mankind…

  14. This looks extremely interesting. i’ve actually never heard of something like this before. I definitely support the building of the solar roadways, but the only problem I can imagine cropping up are the costs. I’m sure that it will not be cheap to build these roadways. Hopefully in the future technology can advance to the point when it won’t be as expensive anymore.

  15. When I first saw this I was all excited and shared it everywhere. Then I stumbled on a YouTube video where the science of it would work or not was sketched out. Unfortunately there are a lot of factors that would this unsustainable. Just one, for instance, glass does not do well under stress, it would be rubbed smooth, very quickly. Which would make the road very dangerous, especially when wet. They did give a great alternative idea, that instead of making the roadways out of the solar panels, create a cover structure that you put the solar panels on, which would cover the road and create the energy. Whatever idea finally works in the end, it’s really encouraging that so many are getting the idea that SOMETHING has to change. 🙂

  16. This would be so useful in states that get a lot of snowfall during the winter. The solar powered roads could just easily melt the ice off. It would surely make it more safer and energy efficient.

  17. I’m really happy that we’re getting this type of technology. Hopefully when it’s implemented around the world we’ll be burning less fossil fuels and maybe make the generation that lives on while we go on have a better life. One problem I can foresee for this project is widespread implementation. The amount of funding needed to do that, not to mention the cost to replace the existing roads, is massive, and two million doesn’t even come close to doing that. I’m aware the money is for development purposes, but I really can’t foresee a situation where anywhere around the world, from Africa to New Zeland to China to America having solar roadways installed everywhere. You could just install it in a small area, but to really slow down global warming teemendously I think this has to be a large scale thing. Even then, I’m really hoping that they’ll be successful with this because it would save us burning the fossil fuels and save us money.

  18. This idea is amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t see it being very feasible in the near feature. Solar panels cost way too much to be able to make hundreds thousands of miles of road with them. Also how much electricity do they generate? I doubt it’s gonna be enough to pay for themselves, as the article says.

  19. It seems like a really cool technology, but I have a few concerns. Yes, the video makes it seem like everything is great about them, but there are some issues that aren’t covered. The costs of the man power, glass, wiring, etc., I don’t think it will ever happen. According to some calculations, the glass alone would cost $20 Trillion.

  20. This is a good idea, but in reality, the cost is so high. There is plenty of space already to build solar panels, we don’t need to go into roads to do this. I think that there are better ways to spend our money.

  21. In short: do this now! Call me an idealist when it comes to future tech, but this seems brilliant. It accurately answers the question: if roads were designed today, what would they look like? This. This is how they would look. Eco-friendly, innovative and modern.

  22. This has been discussed by many people (you’re a bit late to the party, David 😛 ), and I’ve seen several in depth calculations about this and the truth is, this will never work. Not in its current form anyway. Yes, the idea is interesting, but the cost of production and maintenance is too high and the profits from the generated electricity, under ideal circumstances, are just too little to be of any significance.

    Not to mention the fact that energy generated during the daytime can not be used to light up the LEDs at night. You can’t store that energy, the power grid is not a rechargeable battery. If you generate electricity, it must be used immediately. So where do these roadways plan on getting their power from at night?

    Maybe it gets some more people thinking about alternative energy though, and will inspire more people to install solar panels on their roof, which actually can make a difference.

  23. This is the kind of invention that gets me really excited, I love this idea.

    I agree with other comments, the video is delivered in a non-conventional way, but I think they did this to stand out from the crowd.

    I am going to follow the progress of this, I am really interested to see it first laid down somewhere.

  24. I think that this is pretty cool. The video looks awesome. It would be nice to see a different type of road instead of just pavement, gravel, or dirt. Hopefully in the near future they can make this road available everywhere.

  25. I love the video. This is so cool too bad companies might not want to agree with this especially the electric companies. But then again who knows, but I think this solar roadways are a long way out there in the future.

  26. Well, that is new, not an idea I would have ever thought possible. but if it produces more energy, then we should start this project right away. Running solar panels can be really expensive, so we have to see how cost effective this will be. But if it actually produce enough electricity for all of us to charge our cars, then we can be less reliant on petrol vehicles. Hope to see this working and on our streets soon.

  27. This idea sounds really cool. It would definitely decrease accidents on the roads and no more roads closed to roadwork. Though, I think this is gong to take quite a while to be implemented, removing current roads and adding these, yeap, that is some hard work.

  28. People are making amazing changes in the world. Germany is already going green, this incorporated into modern roads will definitely boost solar power and renewable power supplies. But they may become less efficient during high traffic times as a lot of sun will be blocked out by a huge stream of cars. But that wouldn’t occur everywhere. Overall an amazing concept.

  29. I saw this quite a while ago on YouTube and it seems like a really awesome concept, although I read some of the criticism around the internet and it started to seem like it’d, unfortunately, not be very practical due to several reasons. I’m curious as to the position this company is in right now.

  30. Wow that’s certainly something else. I knew that someone would come up with this eventually, it’s really the best way to go about things. Hopefully this can generate enough power to save people lots of money and help the environment too.

  31. I saw this a little while ago and the first thing I thought of was isn’t asphalt one of the most recycled things we have? I totally understand the idea and reasoning behind this, but I’m not sure it’s very practical. I would love to be able to change the color of my driveway depending on season / holidays but, at what cost?

  32. I like the idea of using solar energy for the greater good. The hero (solar roadways) is present on places where we often feel at risk, including playgrounds. It teaches us to play it safe, and looking at the rhombi design, it is quite artsy.

  33. Solar roadways are a pretty neat idea, especially because not only do they get an insane amount of sun coverage throughout the day, but you can use existing roadways without having to clear out areas for solar. The only problem I see with these roads is maintenance, because eventually it will have to be repaired due to constant use. The heating elements and LEDs would also have to be maintained pretty well, even with the long lifespan of LEDs. This’d be good for driveways and maybe some residential roads, but I don’t think it’d be good for city streets because of the lack of sun exposure they’d get, and also it wouldn’t be that good for highways unless we were to dedicate some maintenance to it.

  34. I’m so glad to see this has succeeded, it is a brilliant idea indeed, I would like to see more technology used to create clean energy and resources. I am looking forward to hearing about the first city (cities) who will implement them, and what the results will be like. There is so much scope for improving our lives!

  35. I absolutely love this idea. When I first heard of it, I was floored by its brilliancy. I think this is an important step in saving our planet. I hope many states will soon adopt this new technology. Whenever I drive cross-country, I’m amazed at how many solar farms and solar highway panels I see. So, this definitely is possibility. Woohoo!

  36. Pretty cool, but these panels cost a fortune right now. Can you imagine how much road maintenance will cost, even if it does offset some of it to electricity savings.

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