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posted by n1 on Friday May 23 2014, @07:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the if-it's-too-good-to-be-true dept.

IFLScience has a blogvertisement for a company called Solar Roadways, which replaces the decades-old tarmac way of building roads which something far more useful. As well as incorporating a solar power collector, other features such as under-road heating to clear snow, LED lighting to light the way, trunking for stormwater and utilities, and the ability to find broken segments (potholes) instantly.

Obviously it will never work, but why not?

Related Stories

Georgia Tests New Solar Road 37 comments

http://www.curbed.com/2017/2/6/14521102/highway-the-ray-solar-power-transportation From the article:

Highways have never been the sexiest infrastructure projects, but Allie Kelly, the executive director of The Ray, believes that preconception will shift dramatically over the next few years due to rapid technological shifts. With politicians in Washington discussing the administration's ambitious infrastructure plans, now is the time to make investments in our transportation system. As far as Kelly is concerned, that vision should focus on achieving zero deaths, zero carbon, and zero waste. She hopes The Ray can serve as the laboratory where new ideas and revenue models are tried, tested, and proven possible.

"We're at a tipping point in transportation," says Kelly. "In five to ten years, we won't remember a time when we invested a dime in infrastructure spending for a road that only did one thing."

[...] Initially, the vision for The Ray was to add a solar installation in the median, along with a wildflower garden, to remind drivers about the environmental costs of the transportation system. But the results of the study suggested a more dramatic plan was needed. Since then, The Ray, in concert with the Georgia Department of Transportation, has slowly rolled out a number of new initiatives to improve both safety and sustainability. In 2015, a new electric charging station powered in part by photovoltaic panels, a joint project with funding from Kia Motors, became the first in the state.

This past year, the Ray added a strip of Wattway solar panels to an entrance ramp, and installed a WheelWright tire pressure sensor at a rest stop right next to the Alabama state line. The new British device helps drivers quickly test and maintain proper tire pressure, a leading cause of crashes.

Over the next year, the foundation plans to add more new tests that will help build out a more holistic roadway. A one megawatt solar installation will be installed in a right-of-way as part of a joint effort with Georgia Power to turn the highway into a place for power generation, and a series of bioswales—landscaped drainage ditches that naturally filter pollution—will turn the areas adjacent to the highway into more clean, sustainable, and natural landscapes.

"We're pushing the idea that these kind of installations can become widespread energy generation system for state departments of transportation," says Kelly. "Highways can eventually make money, and even serve as a power grid for the future."

Previous stories on solar roads and pathways:
Solar Generating Roads
SolaRoad Cycle Path Electricity Yield Exceeds Expectations


Original Submission

Thieves Swipe a Portion of China's Solar Road 13 comments

Solar roads have plenty of potential problems, such as damage and snow, but theft? Apparently that's a concern, too. China's Qilu Evening News reported that thieves carved out a small (5.9in by 73in) portion of an experimental road in Jinan on January 2nd, a mere five days after its December 28th debut. While it's tempting to suggest this was an accident, officials said the missing segment was "neatly cut," and didn't appear to have come loose on its own.

The segment has since been repaired. An investigation is ongoing, but there aren't any identified culprits as of this writing.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/01/07/thieves-take-portion-of-china-solar-road/

Previously: Solar Generating Roads
Solar Roadway not Quite so Practical
SolaRoad Cycle Path Electricity Yield Exceeds Expectations
World's First Solar Panel Road Opens in Normandy Village
Georgia Tests New Solar Road


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @07:24AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @07:24AM (#46660)

    The road-builders' union will never allow this.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Valkor on Friday May 23 2014, @07:38AM

    by Valkor (4253) on Friday May 23 2014, @07:38AM (#46665) Homepage

    My guess is it won't work well enough due to dirt. I just can't imagine these panels being efficient enough after a year of being scuffed up, and all those little scuffs and dings being filled with dirt. It also wouldn't work well in cities, where cars or other shadows are over top of them, and wouldn't work on country roads where I live purely because of the shadows from overhanging trees.

    Now, on highways, they might work, if they have found something tough enough to keep from getting scratched while remaining clear enough to let light in.

    This money is better spent on installing panels on people's roofs.

    • (Score: 1) by skater on Friday May 23 2014, @12:11PM

      by skater (4342) on Friday May 23 2014, @12:11PM (#46720) Journal

      Could I use it to replace my driveway? The cars are generally in the garage when they're home, so they wouldn't be covering the current blacktop very often...

    • (Score: 2) by nightsky30 on Friday May 23 2014, @12:42PM

      by nightsky30 (1818) on Friday May 23 2014, @12:42PM (#46727)

      We have street cleaners, wind, and rain. Is there really that much dirt accumulation? I could see being scuffed up or being susceptible to shadows.

      • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Friday May 23 2014, @03:43PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Friday May 23 2014, @03:43PM (#46781)

        Do not underestimate the incredible power of brake dust. All that crap that builds up on your undercarriage, engine compartment, etc.? Brake dust, a lot of it.

        The only place I see anything like this working is to power the lights at intersections. It's a moderate step up from the solar-powered blinking lights ringing stop signs in my area. Even so, they don't put those panels on/in the road - they put them overhead. I just don't see replacing cheap asphalt with expensive solar panels to work out well. Would they start issuing big ticket fines to people who have oil leaks? To say nothing of street sweepers being entirely insufficient to clean at an optical quality level.

    • (Score: 2) by monster on Friday May 23 2014, @12:49PM

      by monster (1260) on Friday May 23 2014, @12:49PM (#46731) Journal

      I see trucks as a much bigger problem, instead. Seeing what the frequent pass of cargo trucks does to conventional roads makes me doubt that this hi-tech roads would endure even the same amount of punishment.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday May 23 2014, @03:21PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Friday May 23 2014, @03:21PM (#46770)

        And that's when they stay on their wheels.

        The first time a truck overturns in a gust of wind, that's when sparks will fly!

    • (Score: 2) by Teckla on Friday May 23 2014, @02:48PM

      by Teckla (3812) on Friday May 23 2014, @02:48PM (#46761)

      This money is better spent on installing panels on people's roofs.

      I'm waiting for the day solar panels are as durable and cheap as asphalt shingles. If and when that day comes, it'll be the start of an energy revolution.

    • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Friday May 23 2014, @06:48PM

      by isostatic (365) on Friday May 23 2014, @06:48PM (#46848) Journal

      wouldn't work well in cities, where cars or other shadows

      Lets look just outside the centre of Phoenix, AZ.

      How much of the road surface is covered? [google.co.uk] How about the sidewalk?

      How about Seattle? [google.co.uk]

      In heavy traffic, at 20mph, with a 1.5 second gap, it means that a car will cover 10' out of 44', under 25%.

      For the 10 hours a day outside the rush-hour (2 hours in each direction, average 12 hour day) coverage will be far higher

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Saturday May 24 2014, @03:44AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Saturday May 24 2014, @03:44AM (#46987) Homepage

      And if they're really that durable, why couldn't they replace conventional shingles?

  • (Score: 2) by jimshatt on Friday May 23 2014, @08:36AM

    by jimshatt (978) on Friday May 23 2014, @08:36AM (#46669) Journal
    Probably, people will just steal those neato panels.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by EvilJim on Friday May 23 2014, @09:21AM

    by EvilJim (2501) on Friday May 23 2014, @09:21AM (#46677)

    1 Jimshatt is right
    2 Valcor is right
    3 anonymous coward is right
    and 4 the technology will be 5 years away from production, therefore we wont see it in our lifetime

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @09:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @09:28AM (#46679)

    How are you going to get enough watts from solar panels to clear snow off the panels via _heating_?

    You'll need the wattage from many uncovered panels to clear one snow covered panel.

    The alternatives are:
    1) use electricity from the grid.
    2) use some lower power method of clearing snow instead of purely heating.

    I'd like to see how well such a road handles a few overloaded trucks, especially with debris/objects on the surface.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @11:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @11:16AM (#46706)

      That's why we need FREAKIN' flying cars ...

    • (Score: 1) by RedBear on Friday May 23 2014, @03:50PM

      by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 23 2014, @03:50PM (#46784)

      1. Well, if the inventor is to be believed, they've already successfully been through at least one winter where the panels easily kept themselves clear of snow, so it would appear you are incorrect about requiring wattage from multiple panels just to clear a single panel. And this was with prototype panels that have only partial solar panel coverage of the hexagonal shape due to using off-the-shelf rectangular PV cells. The final product will supposedly have something like 52W versus the 36W of the prototypes. Keep in mind you only need to maintain about 40*F to keep snow from accumulating.

      2. They say they've taken into account the fact that some commercial trucks are illegally overloaded and also that you can get special temporary permits from the DoT to move abnormally heavy loads up to something like 150,000 pounds, so they upgraded their initial design to support up to 250,000 pound loads. Way beyond anything that the road would ever encounter, and beyond what an asphalt road is designed to handle.

      I'm still somewhat skeptical of the whole thing too, but they have a remarkably thorough FAQ on their website that answered a lot of questions for me. Anyone interested should check it out. I think they have plans of starting with parking lots around commercial buildings. Which, again seems a bit daft upon first reflection, but if you take a look around Google Maps you'll notice many parking lots are at least half empty most of the time and the lanes between and around the parking spaces are typically uncovered at least 90% of the time. So if it's really cheaper to install and maintain than asphalt anyway, seems like there's a lot of potential for a win-win by covering your entire parking lot with solar panels. Power your building, offer your customers free charging for their electric vehicles, and never need to have your parking lot plowed and salted. What's not to like?

      Seriously, check out the website, watch the video, read the FAQ. Don't just armchair the idea to death before you know anything about the details.

      --
      ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
      ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
      • (Score: 2) by emg on Friday May 23 2014, @06:06PM

        by emg (3464) on Friday May 23 2014, @06:06PM (#46833)

        "Well, if the inventor is to be believed, they've already successfully been through at least one winter where the panels easily kept themselves clear of snow"

        Around here, the roads get ploughed once or twice a year after heavy falls. Otherwise, the traffic and sunlight clean them up quickly on their own.

        How well do these things handle a snowplough rolling over them to clear the six inches of snow that fell the previous night?

        "Keep in mind you only need to maintain about 40*F to keep snow from accumulating."

        So they only need to stay 80F above the air temperature, in the worst of our winter.

      • (Score: 1) by dougisfunny on Friday May 23 2014, @08:40PM

        by dougisfunny (3458) on Friday May 23 2014, @08:40PM (#46894)

        For your 1st point, that's not actually what he said. He said in the heating element tests, they were powering the heating elements from the grid, with if I recall correctly 72W of power, and it was warm to the touch. He also said that they needed more research to determine exactly how much power would be needed to keep the elements at the appropriate temperature.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @11:25AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @11:25AM (#46707)
    Because we don't even take good care of our plain ol 'dumb' roads.

    Aside from a few states that have their shit together. But even that is really hit or miss.
  • (Score: 1) by Aiwendil on Friday May 23 2014, @12:09PM

    by Aiwendil (531) on Friday May 23 2014, @12:09PM (#46718) Journal

    It will probably fail since it makes the most sense when grid-connections would be expensive but more people will campaign for it to be used near bildings, parkinglots, gridlocks and other places with lots of shadows.

  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday May 23 2014, @03:23PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday May 23 2014, @03:23PM (#46771)

    I know it's hard for many people in the US to even consider this, but I've got a dumb question:
    Rather than on the roads (for all the reasons above), why don't they put that neat tech along train tracks?

    • (Score: 2) by emg on Friday May 23 2014, @05:47PM

      by emg (3464) on Friday May 23 2014, @05:47PM (#46826)

      What's a train track?

  • (Score: 2) by randmcnatt on Friday May 23 2014, @03:50PM

    by randmcnatt (671) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 23 2014, @03:50PM (#46785)
    They'll need to build two roads. First, they'd have to build a concrete highway just to lay the tiles on or they'll very soon be out of alignment. Ever driven on a cobblestone road?
    --
    The Wright brothers were not the first to fly: they were the first to land.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @03:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @03:53PM (#46786)

    Here in the state of Florida, USA, I'm always embarrassed by how horrible our roads are. There is no serious weather here in FL, yet our roads are in constant state of disrepair. I've lived other places in the US and most of the time roads elsewhere are in much better shape, even in states with atrocious winters that wreak havoc on roads. I've also lived in Europe in areas with very bad weather, and their roads are glorious. Absolutely glorious. My conclusion has been that either those in charge of Floridian roads are too stupid to know how to build roads properly, and/or too corrupt to actually build them properly, thereby getting more money to constantly come-in and fix them up. I think this is evidence that any new technology related to roads will fail here in Florida, and likely much of the US, because we're too dumb and/or corrupt to allow it. Stupid/Evil folks have a sweet thing going by funneling taxpayer money into their pockets, why shake that up? We can't handle existing technology in road construction, much less new technology. Of course the stupid/evil people will argue that the new technology will cost $X, which is too expensive since we can barely pay the current costs of road maintenance. Of course it's likely too expensive because of the stupidity/corruption inherent in the current system, not because the new technology when used ethically and properly is actually too expensive.

    • (Score: 2) by DECbot on Friday May 23 2014, @07:52PM

      by DECbot (832) on Friday May 23 2014, @07:52PM (#46883) Journal

      Unlike most of the country, Florida has terrible soil for building roads. The sandy, marshy soil causes foundation issues that requires the entire roadway to be dug up to repair what looks like simple surface issues. It's like the entire state is made up of beaches, marshes, and peat bogs that most sane civil engineers avidly avoid in the rest of the US. You'll have more success developing flying cars, hovercrafts, and canals in Florida than developing a long life road.

      --
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @04:25PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 23 2014, @04:25PM (#46794)

    this is hilarious. put solar panels on the roof which is shaded, has the wrong angle and might not be designed to carry the load. now recommend them as road surfaces, where the shadow of traffic jams prohibites their usage.
    i recommend putting them on the bottom of the ocean. you know the ocean covers 70% of the planet.

    this is all a sick joke of some fisheads "subtly" bashing solar: *clang* *clang?* go the champagne glasses and laughter ensues.
    -
    now how many solar panels have you seen the last week? prolly non. why?
    i live in a city with ~700'000 electricity using people and the only solar panel i found (after not looking hard enough?) was a 16 square meter system at the engineering department at the uni. and it was covered with leafs ... so.

    "Why do it simple (array on field) if you can do it ass-backwards (roof, road ... ocean floor)"

    • (Score: 1) by J053 on Saturday May 24 2014, @12:18AM

      by J053 (3532) Subscriber Badge <{dakine} {at} {shangri-la.cx}> on Saturday May 24 2014, @12:18AM (#46950) Homepage

      now how many solar panels have you seen the last week? prolly non.

      Depends on where you are. I'm in Hawaii, and last I heard the state was getting something like 15% of its electricity from solar. In fact, the Public Utilities Commission and Legislature are having to mandate the local utility to allow more solar installations - they keep saying their grid can't handle the reinjection of power from residential/business users.

      Looking around here (pop. ~41,000), a larege number of businesses and residences have at least solar water heating, and many have PV installations. I'm planning to put panels on my house later this year (we have the highest electricity costs in the nation - $.35/kWh) - hello, $100/month electric bills!

  • (Score: 1) by qwerty on Friday May 23 2014, @07:03PM

    by qwerty (861) on Friday May 23 2014, @07:03PM (#46858) Homepage

    It sounds neat in a simplistic way, considering the large area of roads on the planet. But driving oily cars over your collecting surface will quickly degrade the efficiency to zero. Plus, my cars seem to run better on driving surfaces with a good amount of friction to prevent the rubber from sliding across the double-yellow lines. In short, they would need a transparent suitably-frictioned surface that keeps itself optically clean while supporting the stress of traffic. It would likely be cheaper to instead construct a tunnel with photovoltaics spread across the roof.

  • (Score: 1) by Murdoc on Friday May 23 2014, @09:18PM

    by Murdoc (2518) on Friday May 23 2014, @09:18PM (#46905) Homepage

    I can certainly see the benefits of such a system, if it did work. But it won't because you are trying to bring together a technology that is generally expensive, hard to produce, and relatively fragile with one of the most heavily abused materials on earth (both due to traffic and weather). Even if you could make them durable enough to be practical, the cost would simply be too high. There are better alternatives. Another fine example of anascopic (myopic) thinking.

    • (Score: 1) by el_oscuro on Saturday May 24 2014, @02:07AM

      by el_oscuro (1711) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 24 2014, @02:07AM (#46963)

      While I completely agree, sometimes there is a reason to do something as batshit insane as this. The same reason people climb mountains higher then where the human body can survive or jump out of perfectly good planes. Because it is there.

      Someone might get a contract to build this somewhere, and will undoubtedly waste a lot of tax payers money. It will fail, but perhaps during the failure someone will learn something useful in building solar panels and/or roads.

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