Author Topic: Solar Roadways  (Read 1984 times)

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Offline hrd2imagin

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« on: March 03, 2008, 09:23:14 AM »
Anybody hear of this project??

http://www.solarroadways.com

Very interesting idea.  This group wants to build roads made of glass covered solar panels.  They also propose an LED grid that will "paint" lines on the road and warn drivers of upcoming dangers, etc.  They propose they can heat the roads up north to eliminate the need for snow removal, and also relay power and data through the roads eliminating telephone poles.

They're target is to use 15% efficiency solar panels and build 12x12 panels of "road" for under $7000.  If they can, the cost of a solar roadway will be similar to the cost of an asphalt road.  I don't really know the current cost of solar panels to determine if this is realistic.

It seems like a great idea, but I'm not sure how realistic it is.  Figured I'd post it here to see what the great skeptic minds around here think.

Offline George

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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2008, 10:00:37 AM »
Roads pick up lots of rubber from tires. That would hurt power generation. Then there are the matters of durability, of cars stopping on wet glass...

Interesting idea. Sounds far-fetched, at least for now.

Offline George

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« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2008, 10:12:41 AM »
I visited the site. I find their claims very dubious. For example, in one place the proclaim that the half of the world in daylight will power the half of the world in night. Yet in the cost analysis the cost of power transmission is all included. Between hemispheres?

There might be something to the basic concept but I think they present a very rosy view of it that I doubt is realistic.

Offline ricree

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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2008, 10:21:25 AM »
The site seems to be down at the moment.  Are they actually talking about making the driving surface out of glass covered solar panels?  That just seems a little silly and impractical to me.

Offline SnarlPatrick

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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2008, 10:47:21 AM »
Sounds awesome but yeah, far-fetched, possible problems...

- Traction
- Glare from the sun and headlights would be unbelievable. Its pretty bad now even on fresh asphalt.
- Initial Cost (as cheap as asphalt? Nuh-uh)
- Maintenance (now we gotta squeegee the road? Durability simply cannot be comparable. You could vandalize the road with a hammer.)
- Are they proposing that led's replace lane lines? So if there was an electrical problem... no more lanes? That sounds like a bad idea. They'd need to be painted too.
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Offline doyama

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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2008, 11:16:16 AM »
There are a few major practical problems with his

1) Transmission of energy. Collecting energy is only one problem, how do you effectively get that energy to people who need it is something totally different.

2) Maintenance costs would be enormous. Hell in Boston the roads are so full of potholes they don't have the money to fix them. Towns lack the money to support such an infrastructure.

3) The environment plays a key issue as well. In the northeast with all the snow and salt you have to throw around, you won't collect much energy for 6 months of the year :P. In places like Seattle, it rains so much you wouldn't get enough sunlight to make it practical.

Offline cerveauxfrits

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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2008, 11:50:21 AM »
I wonder what it would take to build a road that isn't perfectly flat and straight using this design.


Something tells me that San Francisco won't be an early adopter.

Offline TurboCramb

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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2008, 12:03:36 PM »
This is retarded.

I can think of so many things wrong with it, but I'll skip them all and just say the obvious.

It would be WAY cheaper to build a ton of solar infrastructure that does not have to double as a road surface.

For example... a bunch of autorotating (to maximize incidence angle, which the road would NOT do) solar panels NEXT to the road, in the space that is already cleared.
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Offline stickman

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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2008, 01:55:17 PM »
There's a major problem with the economics here.  He compares the cost of these panels with the cost of a traditional road, but most of the cost of a road is in the road bed, not the final layer of asphalt.  Unless he's planning to just drop these panels on the ground and call it a road, he still needs (and has to pay for) a roadbed.
If he's just talking about resurfacing existing roads, then he should be comparing his panels to the cost of asphalt resurfacing, not road construction.
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Offline LeeTheAgent

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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2008, 04:21:22 PM »
Well, it's a neat idea, but adopting solar panels on the roofs of every building seems so much more feasible...
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Offline SkepThickHeaded

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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2008, 04:26:59 PM »
Quote from: "TurboCramb"
This is retarded.

I can think of so many things wrong with it, but I'll skip them all and just say the obvious.


I think you already said the obvious.  This is retarded.

The guy is an electrical engineer, and probably knows a lot about electric stuff...but a civil engineer would probably wet himself laughing at this.
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2008, 04:27:09 PM »
Quote from: "stickman"
There's a major problem with the economics here.  He compares the cost of these panels with the cost of a traditional road, but most of the cost of a road is in the road bed, not the final layer of asphalt.  Unless he's planning to just drop these panels on the ground and call it a road, he still needs (and has to pay for) a roadbed.
If he's just talking about resurfacing existing roads, then he should be comparing his panels to the cost of asphalt resurfacing, not road construction.


Not to mention a substantial cost of new road construction is right of way acquisition, grading, utility relocation and considerations, drainage issues, bridge construction over washes and rivers, logistical aspects (i.e. spoil storage and disposal)....all having very little to do with the final layer of asphalt.

I agree a much better comparison would be resurfacing (milling/paving), which is extremely cheap compared to a new road being cut in.

Offline SkepThickHeaded

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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2008, 05:18:57 PM »
working out the math on a per square foot basis on info from :http://www.dot.state.fl.us/estimates/LaneMileCosts/LaneMilecosts.htm

it looks like new construction of highway is about $50 per sq ft, this dudes solar panels are "targeting" (read:  costs way more) $48 per sq ft.

So, the solar panels are actually CHEAPER (in fantasy land), except for the fact that the $50 gets you TOTAL construction costs for concrete slab, and $48 gets you a panel stacked on the back of a truck.
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Offline cerveauxfrits

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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2008, 05:41:13 PM »
That doesn't just include the cost of the pavement, that also includes things like clearing a right-of-way on each side, installing signs, paint, culverts, etc.

Offline Zytheran

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« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2008, 07:52:02 PM »
I wonder if he has ever noticed the thousands of access holes into underground services that start in road services? :oops: That's the problem with electrical engineers, they never seem to do much civil or mechanical engineering theory or practice.
I would have though solar cells as one piece roof tiles, sheeting or wall cladding make more sense, at least you don't have the dynamic loads.
In fact don't even worry how they get used, just work out how to make cheap affordable solar cells. The demand exists and people will quickly work out how to use them.
What is proposed here will cost a lot more than regular cells due to the LED stuff and the strength required, if it could be made to work.

 

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