Is the U.S. Ready For Solar Panel-Equipped Roads?
Solar energy is a great resource, but it requires space. Many environmentalists argue that the space required to create solar farms large enough to be useful would also have a severe impact on the land on which they are built. But what if there was a way to use an already abundant space for solar panels?
According to ScienceAlert, a green tech company called Solar Roadways wants to install solar panels in thousands of miles of American roadways. According to the company there are over 11,000 square miles of road in the U.S., and Solar Roadways thinks they have an energy solution in the form of LED-lit solar panels.
But when we think of solar panels, we think of fragile solar units, which would likely crush under our own weight, let alone that of a conventional vehicle or mack truck. The company says its 1.5cm-thick, hexagonal solar panels could withstand the weight of a 250,000-pound semi truck. Additionally, it would never get potholes.
According to Solar Roadways, if every inch of American road were covered in solar panels, it would produce more energy than the U.S. consumes in a given year. But there are some downsides. For one, it would require a ditch on the side of the road for cables, and for that potion of the road to be shut down while the panels were installed.
Then there is the price. Solar Roadways is trying to raise $1 million to test its systems, and you can bet the cost of installing just a few miles of this stuff would not be cheap. Though the long-term benefits may weight out the costs, we are a “right now” society, and right now, the $5 a gallon some folks are paying is just fine compared to the thought of how the highway department would raise the billions required to cover all of our roads– even if it is a good idea.