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Solar Freaking Roadways!!!
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So someone posted this in one of the climate change threads, then I stumbled across it on FB and finally watched the video (mildly entertaining); this link is their contribution page with some basic info along with the video that's starting to make it around:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways

Thoughts? Lots of engineers on these boards, does this pass the engineering sniff test? I love the idea in theory, I do worry though that it'd be a MASSIVE undertaking spanning decades and would be fraught with billions in waste...but then again if we're sitting here in 30 years (hopefully not on this board, that'd just be sad) with solar roadways that are powering the country and providing all kinds of other benefits I'd be a happy camper.

No AGW talk in this thread please...stick to the technology and the funding and the viability if at all possible.

SOLAR FREAKING ROADWAYS!
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Let's start with this...

How much do these panels cost?

It's only smellz.

- Rocco Siffredi
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Duffy] [ In reply to ]
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Oh ye of little faith.

Obviously that's a massive question, but if these really are a net producer on a big scale (MASSIVE if) then the upfront cost seems like something that can be worked out. We're talking trillions over time I'm sure, but in tiny chunks to start--a parking lot, a driveway, a small road, a small town, etc--that can be sorted out and seems like it's even something that can generate outside investors through advertising and whatnot.
Last edited by: Brownie28: May 25, 14 18:15
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Well, then...if the economics of it workout I guess we let the economics of it workout.

Supply and demand has sucked a hell of a lot of oil out of the earth and some of that shit is hard to get.

It's only smellz.

- Rocco Siffredi
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Duffy] [ In reply to ]
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If you ask Rob Ford he'll tell you that private corporations will pay for this kind of thing...

How does Danny Hart sit down with balls that big?
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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I find the idea intriguing, also. My biggest concern, though, is the materials involved in large scale manufacture of these things. Will they require rare earths or similar materials that might be difficult to procure in such vast quantities? And does their manufacture involve the toxic nastiness of so many electronic items?

-----
Over 4.5 years bike crash free.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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That is a pretty cool idea. I could see it more in a parking lot, or walkways or something where it would contribute to individual buildings power needs, but I think the problems, and costs, associated with paving roads and highways with this stuff would just be insane on the larger scale. It looks like you would have to not only tear up the original roads, but excavate deeper to allow for those long continuous trenches for all the electronics and water.

I wonder what the expected lifespan of those tiles are under normal use?
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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And if you tie enough bottle rockets together you can launch something to the moon.

What would you guess is easier to engineer? Solar powered roofs or solar powered roads? When we run out of space on roofs for the things, maybe then we ought to start worrying about building roads out of them.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Roads get beat to hell and back again. That's my biggest concern. It's one thing if the roi for pure installation is good, another kettle of fish if we realize 3 years down the road (wah wah wah waaaaaah) that our 20 year panels be dying and fast...

Sniff test equals cool idea. I'll get excited when a test section works well for a good while.

The question of who is right and who is wrong has seemed to me always too small to be worth a moment's thought, while the question of what is right and what is wrong has seemed all-important.

-Albert J. Nock
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Incredibly stupid idea. Instead of contemplating how many more trillions and billions of dollars we should spend propping up our unsustainable automobile centric suburban sprawl-hell why don't we start building higher density, walkable neighborhoods with less asphalt surfaces to maintain, and negating the need to drive everywhere constantly. It also makes economical sense. Some parts of the world have been doing it for thousands of years. Then we can put solar panels on the roofs where they belong, and easily generate all the electricity we need.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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My thought was driveways and possibly corporate sidewalks and patios. I'd be shocked if this got to full scale roadways. Our roads here in PA just got beat to hell this past winter with the constant cold/warm shifting that we had.


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..but then again if we're sitting here in 30 years (hopefully not on this board, that'd just be sad)

I'm coming up on 9 years already! { =..^..(..

-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
-----------------------------RunTraining articles here:
http://forum.slowtwitch.com/...runtraining;#1612485
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [BarryP] [ In reply to ]
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There wouldn't be the same damage due to the road being heated. Heated sidewalks and driveways in ski area towns last much longer than non heated surfaces.

I have concerns about having the materials to make sufficient amounts of the product. In my medium sized city there are over 4000 miles of public roads. Then there are all the parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks. That's a huge amount of materials to retrofit everything. Solar cells, heating elements, microprocessors, glass, etc., in every panel would require huge amounts of material.

And then how long does it take to recoup the cost via the energy generated?

BarryP wrote:
My thought was driveways and possibly corporate sidewalks and patios. I'd be shocked if this got to full scale roadways. Our roads here in PA just got beat to hell this past winter with the constant cold/warm shifting that we had.


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..but then again if we're sitting here in 30 years (hopefully not on this board, that'd just be sad)

I'm coming up on 9 years already! { =..^..(..

Don

Tri-ing to have fun. Anything else is just a bonus!
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Our roads are covered with snow for half the year.


"...Sometimes it's about getting the most speed out of the motor you have." -- Tom A.
(Yes, I'm occasionally back on ST.)
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [xraycharlie] [ In reply to ]
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xraycharlie wrote:
I find the idea intriguing, also. My biggest concern, though, is the materials involved in large scale manufacture of these things. Will they require rare earths or similar materials that might be difficult to procure in such vast quantities? And does their manufacture involve the toxic nastiness of so many electronic items?

Nothing to see here... Look! a squirrel...



It's only smellz.

- Rocco Siffredi
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [MOP_Mike] [ In reply to ]
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MOP_Mike wrote:
Our roads are covered with snow for half the year.

Shhh... Don't ruin the fantasy.

It's only smellz.

- Rocco Siffredi
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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It's only smellz.

- Rocco Siffredi
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Duffy] [ In reply to ]
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haha this is hilarious
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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It did make me think about how intensely hot pavement gets during the summer. There has to be a fair amount of stored energy associated with that. However, as others have said, what is the cost per square foot/mile versus traditional building materials and then what is the durability versus traditional building materials? Once you have those two answers, we can start weighting the costs against the benefits. I must say, the concept is very compelling for many reasons, and generating power is not even on the top of the list.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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Did a bit of googling, here is a decent article about it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/05/20/forget-roofs-are-solar-roads-the-next-big-thing/


50% more expensive than asphault construction, and the infrastructure that would be needed to support it. . . I'm just not sure it's worth it. Honestly, it would probably be a cheaper undertaking for local, state, and federal governments to buy every homeowner a solar panel for their roof.


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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Duffy] [ In reply to ]
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Duffy wrote:
xraycharlie wrote:
I find the idea intriguing, also. My biggest concern, though, is the materials involved in large scale manufacture of these things. Will they require rare earths or similar materials that might be difficult to procure in such vast quantities? And does their manufacture involve the toxic nastiness of so many electronic items?

Nothing to see here... Look! a squirrel...


I feel better about it now.

-----
Over 4.5 years bike crash free.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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As a true road -- no way.
As an oddball, occasional novelty -- maybe.

Look at the pretty designs we can create with the microprocessors and LEDs! LMFAO.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [ziggie204] [ In reply to ]
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ziggie204 wrote:
Did a bit of googling, here is a decent article about it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/05/20/forget-roofs-are-solar-roads-the-next-big-thing/


50% more expensive than asphault construction, and the infrastructure that would be needed to support it. . . I'm just not sure it's worth it. Honestly, it would probably be a cheaper undertaking for local, state, and federal governments to buy every homeowner a solar panel for their roof.


That's a good article, thanks for linking. Here's the Vox article linked in the one you provided:
http://www.vox.com/...ds-with-solar-panels

This certainly isn't viable in its present state, on a massive scale...but that doesn't mean it's not worth exploring. Two thoughts I have: these aren't viable on big-city roads. Huge, huge traffic volume, so breakdown and repair would likely prove costly. And the solar benefit is essentially nil when there's no, you know, sun. Also, diversification in panels seems like a no-brainer to me. In the south you don't need heated panels. And 75% of panels really don't need the LED system; on your average road what's the benefit of having costly LED lighting when all you need is a strip in the middle?

Anyway, I hate when people say 'this won't work' (not you, ziggie, just a few others in this thread and comment sections of other articles) and point out a few (legitimate) issues, without giving it a chance. They're starting with a few driveways in their hometown. If that works they'll move on to some parking lots. By then we're talking 2020 and the technology will be better understood, durability and repair can be hashed out, and the entire panel structure can evolve into something that hopefully can be mass-produced for small-scale asphalt replacement projects. I love this idea, I don't think it's a cut-and-dried winner and the solution to all our energy problems. But I do think it can be a big contributor to reducing carbon emissions and slowly reshaping the way our roads and cars function.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [Brownie28] [ In reply to ]
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> without giving it a chance

Horrible, horrible idea. It has less than no chance. I thought it was an Onion article at first. Total government waste that it was funded at all. It's a total con job.

Roads and panels have orthogonal requirements. They have basically zero complementary properties. They make zero sense put together. None.

Edit: And my background is electrical engineering and "intelligent transportation." And I love photovoltaics. I have them on my *roof*. For some reason I though this would be more cost-effective than putting them on my *driveway* (facepalm).
Last edited by: trail: May 26, 14 8:07
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [trail] [ In reply to ]
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trail wrote:
> without giving it a chance

Horrible, horrible idea. It has less than no chance. I thought it was an Onion article at first. Total government waste that it was funded at all. It's a total con job.

Roads and panels have orthogonal requirements. They have basically zero complementary properties. They make zero sense put together. None.

Edit: And my background is electrical engineering and "intelligent transportation." And I love photovoltaics. I have them on my *roof*. For some reason I though this would be more cost-effective than putting them on my *driveway* (facepalm).

These panels couldn't be designed to be orthogonal? Can you cite specifically what errors you see in the construction/idea? I'm not challenging/rebutting you, I'd really like to hear what someone in EE sees as the major design flaws (or is it merely conceptual?).

And for the record if it's workable I think it'd make the most sense on lightly traveled roads and big parking lots--areas that get lots of sun and moderate traffic.
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Re: Solar Freaking Roadways!!! [ziggie204] [ In reply to ]
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ziggie204 wrote:
Did a bit of googling, here is a decent article about it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2014/05/20/forget-roofs-are-solar-roads-the-next-big-thing/


50% more expensive than asphault construction, and the infrastructure that would be needed to support it. . . I'm just not sure it's worth it. Honestly, it would probably be a cheaper undertaking for local, state, and federal governments to buy every homeowner a solar panel for their roof.


As someone in the state highways industry, there's not a hope in hell that such a product could come within 50% of the economies of scale associated with conventional road construction.

Perhaps boutique streets in a technology precinct, but there are significantly greater loads experienced on a road than from a simple tractor.

I also think about the friction such a surface could provide to vehicles. You can't have smooth surfaces. Create the necessary coarseness and suddenly it starts accumulating grit etc which could diminish the ability to absorb energy. Those plates looked like they had large dimples. What sort of driving surface would that result in? I would think it would need a rigid foundation otherwise those tiles might start becoming a lumpy hazard. Rigid base in which to house all the goodies would add to the otherwise premium cost.

As stated. I could see it being applied in small scale, show case applications but not for general public use with moderate / high speeds. The former would also be built up environments where shadows are cast over the road for much of the day from buildings, trees etc.

Damn hippies. Next they'll say the earth is round.
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