It would be nice to have a cycle lane that produces electricity to light itself up. And if it just could also melt the snow in the winter please?
That's right. Scott and Julie Brusaws have come up with one of those. They have made a road substance made of solar panels that you can drive, ride, walk and park on. And they melt snow too.
The road is proposed to be made from a heavy duty solar cells equipped with programmable built in sensors and LED lights. This allows the road to become touch sensitive and also provide road signs depending on the situation. It will operate by collecting energy off the sun and storing it in preinstalled batteries. "Solar Roadways is a modular system that will modernise our ageing infrastructure with an intelligent system that can become the new Smart Grid".
The "Smart Grid" stands for a lot more than just a roadway, it's proposed to create a new grid under the new smart road with communication and electricity cables fitted in allowing to save massively on high voltage electricity grids and buried phone and communication cable systems. "Solar Roadways is tackling more than solar energy: The FHWA tasked us with addressing the problem of stormwater."
As you can assume your new high tech cycle lane will come at a staggering cost.
Scott and Julie are no quitters tho, the Solar Roadways project has already received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development, have been a Finalist in the World Technology Award For Energy and was chosen by Google to be one of their Moonshots in May of 2013 among other major awards and recognitions and raised $2,200,591.00, more than double their target on the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo last year.
They claim Solar Roadways will pay for itself over the lifespan by producing electricity.
Never the less, it all sounds a bit like a geek talk from the future and most probably will be refused by any reasonable authority as purely being too ambitious and expensive. Right? Wrong.
The city of Amsterdam introduced their first solar cycling lane mid November 2014. The roughly 70m stretch is built from soar blocks covered by heavy duty glass and a rough plastic coating to protect the panels and give cyclists some grip. Also designed by Scott and Julie Brusaws.
The path connects the suburbs of Krommenie and Wormerveer and is used by 2000 cyclists every day and at the cost around €3m (£2.4m)the 70m cycle way is to generate enough energy to power 2 or 3 households a year.
It does seem very expensive for such a small energy return but it is a pilot project executed by TNO, the engineering firm behind the project – named SolaRoad and growing demand and popularity will rapidly decrease the production costs.
World's first Solar Cycle Lane in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Sten de Wit of the TNO told that up to 20% of the Netherlands’ 140,000km of road could potentially be adapted, helping to power anything from traffic lights to electric cars. Tests have seen the solar panel units successfully carry the weight of heavy vehicles such as tractors. City of Amsterdam has already announced plans in placing more solar cycle lanes should the project prove to be success.
Martijn Akkerman from Dutch company Witteveen+Bos commented that project is first of it's kind and is a great opportunity for such companies as SolaRoad to shine. It does not necessarily mean we will have solar cycle lanes in mass production any time soon, but it certainly means progress and an opportunity to show alternative and sustainable solutions technologically achievable here and now
If all the roads in the US were converted to solar roadways, the Solar Roadways website claims, the country would generate three times as much energy as it currently uses and cut greenhouse gases by 75%. Just imagine what it would do with if all roads where gradually turned into solar ones?