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Solar Roadways

US Politics & Gov't  (tags: climate, CO2emissions, conservation, destruction, ecosystems, energy, GoodNews, greenhousegases, humans, pollution, politics, research, Sustainabililty, science, suffering, world, americans, economy, ethics, freedoms, news, socialsecurity, terrorism )

- 2993 days ago -
Solar Roadways could produce over three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States. Just one of many problems this new system would solve. Call or write your representative and the President.

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Al Baars (27)
Friday February 5, 2010, 9:42 am
According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States (all 50) used just over 4,372 Billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2003, while the entire world (including the U.S.) used approximately 14,768 Billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity total. It is easy to see that the Solar Roadways could produce over three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States. Slightly increasing the conservatively low 15% efficiency would allow the U.S. (the "lower 48") to produce the entire world's electricity needs.

The Solar Roadway is an intelligent road that provides clean renewable energy, while providing safer driving conditions, along with power and data delivery. The Solar Roadway will pay for itself through the generation of electricity. The same money that is being used to build and resurface asphalt roads can be used to build the Solar Roadways. Then, since coal-fired and nuclear power plants will no longer be needed, the costs of all electricity generation plants can also be rolled back into the Solar Roadways. Add too the costs of power distribution systems (power poles, relay stations, etc.)

It will take roughly five billion 12' by 12' Solar Road Panels™ just to cover the roads, parking lots, and driveways in the United States. Imagine the manufacturing requirements: it will create so many new jobs that it may very well become the "New Deal" of the 21st century. We can retrain workers from obsolete jobs such as coal miners and asphalt workers with new "Green Collar" jobs. Unemployment rates will plummet. Vast sums of money will be injected back into our economy. This could create the biggest mobilization this country has seen since WWII.

Engineers love numbers. They (the numbers, that is) generally bore people to death, but at times they are necessary for understanding. One of the biggest questions that has been asked is simply, "Can we really generate enough pollution-free electricity to power our businesses and homes?" The calculations below are presented to answer this very important question.

First, the "givens":
In the contiguous 48 states, there are over 25,000 square miles of impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, etc.), not including actual buildings and structures. Continuing development adds another quarter of a million acres each year. If these impervious surfaces were replaced with Solar Road Panels, how much electricity could we produce?

Let us make these very conservative assumptions:
· We use solar cells that have a mere 15% efficiency (there is technology available that actually doubles this number)
· We average only 4 hours of peak daylight hours per day (4 x 365 = 1460 hours per year)
A popular manufacturer of solar panels offers a 200 Watt model rated at 15% efficiency. Its surface area is 15.16 square feet. If we covered the entire 25,000 square miles of impervious surfaces with solar collection panels, we'd get:

((25,000 mi²) x (5280 ft / mi)²) / (200W/15.16 ft²) =
((25,000 mi²) x (27,878,400 ft² / mi²)) / (200W/15.16 ft²) =
(696960000000 ft²) / (200W/15.16 ft²) = 9194722955145.12 Watts or 9.19 Billion Kilowatts

If we average only 4 hours of peak daylight hours (1460 hours per year), this gives us: 9.19 Billion Kilowatts x 1460 hours = 13424295514511873.35 Kilowatt-hours (or) 13,424 Billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the United States (all 50) used just over 4,372 Billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2003, while the entire world (including the U.S.) used approximately 14,768 Billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity total. It is easy to see that the Solar Roadways could produce over three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States. Slightly increasing the conservatively low 15% efficiency would allow the U.S. (the "lower 48") to produce the entire world's electricity needs.

About 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions stem from the burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. Coal accounts for 93% of the emissions from the electric utility industry. US Emissions Inventory 2004
This is where some of the numbers become "fuzzy": as best we can tell, it is estimated that approximately half (different agencies provide different estimates, but the average is about 50%) of the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming come from the burning of fossil fuels (primarily coal) to generate electricity. The Solar Roadway will, therefore, eliminate half of the greenhouse gases currently being produced.

Summary: the Solar Roadway can cut the causes of global warming in half!

What is all this going to cost?

The average cost of asphalt roads in 2006 was roughly $16 per square foot. The cost does not include maintenance (pot hole repair, repainting lines, etc.) or snow/ice removal. The average lane width is 12 feet, so a 4 lane highway would be 12' (width per lane) x 4 (lanes) x 5280' (one mile) = 253440 square feet. Multiply this by $16 per square foot and your one-mile stretch of asphalt highway will cost $4,055,040.00 and will last an average of seven years.

Alice C (1797)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:35 am
Love it ! : )

Sheryl G (363)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 7:02 am
Well this was great with the math added in and all. I'm not sure what these solar roadways are made out of, how long they would last either, but this is the type of thinking, the types of advancement this Country needs to move forward on.

With the need for jobs....this and other Green Technology could start moving this the USA forward. A few Elites have control and have kept us in the dark ages, continuing to pollute our environment just to continue to line their pockets. As with everything, nothing is given up easily, so let us write those letters and inform our so called Leaders this is the direction we want to go in and to look for those who are ready to step into these shoes with the knowledge to put these new technologies in place.

Thanks Al for putting this story on and I'll certainly forward it along, thanks Alice for bringing it to my attention.

Cathi Hartline (248)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:21 pm
Thank You Al! I greatly appreciate any way we can save using "power" of anything that only makes sense to use our wind and sun! I do not like waste at all!
Blessings all

Cathi Hartline (248)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:22 pm
Thank You Dandelion for the link to Al's news! I truly appreciate the opportunity to learn, note, and comment!

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:24 pm

I will definitely be passing this along! (Loved the video, by the way.)

Thanks, Al!

serge vrabec (278)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:26 pm
What a great idea!!!!!! Solar is definetely a big part of the solution"

change our cuture, beginning with yourself or not

serge vrabec (278)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:26 pm

Kit B (276)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:42 pm
What a grand idea, and I can hear the republicans screaming and finding ways to rewrite the facts already. This could solve and resolve so many problems. Next how do we begin to push this on to floor of congress?

Saturday February 6, 2010, 1:55 pm
I read this in one of my Mag Great Bravo

Fiona O (566)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:04 pm
There is not much information when you visit the site. I could not find the video Carole talked about.

Yvonne White (229)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:16 pm
Sounds Great!!!

Sylvia Walker (18)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:20 pm
Any idea saving energy is great, when it could provide jobs is simply brilliant.

SuS NoMail Plez P (244)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:24 pm
ThankX Al for the great inforrmation. And ThankX dear Cathi for forwarding me this great news. And Thankx Sheryl for forwarding {as you always do} but I'm so backed up on messages I haven't received it yet. LOL Just like Just Carole...I will be forwarding this to all! I understand numbers {the math so to speak} MUCH easier, as if this isn't a no brainer. My tiny pea brain understand so much more clearly! Noted of course!

Fiona O (566)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:32 pm
Did everyone who made a comment visit the site?

Alexa R (319)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:57 pm
Great idea and video. I liked the maths too - also the numbers of animals saved from road deaths were all high ways to become solar.

Fortunal T (89)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 2:59 pm
Roadways FOR or TO the FUTURE ?!

Past Member (0)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:19 pm
Yes, Rajna, TO THE FUTURE!! Thank you very much Al for this, and thanks Cathi for sharing!!! Will share too!!

Barbara D (70)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:21 pm
Wow, this would be awesome! Thanks, Kit!

Shailja Mukhtyar (90)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:31 pm


Cheree M (46)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:31 pm
Interesting!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:43 pm

You can view the video by clicking on "Introduction," then at the bottom of the page, click on the YERT license plate.

The video is really worth seeing!

Odin Torchwood (45)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 3:48 pm
SOLAR FARMS WINS! If it takes just fourty minutes of sunlight to generate all that energie, surely we can all find a place to install solar panels. Trouble is, the cost is currently higher than most people can afford at moment. I'll return for another look tomorrow, so many links and also interestings! Watch out for my article coming soons.

Alicia V (181)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:06 pm
...and about so many cars, running on gasoline!?

AA S (136)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:20 pm
Awesome, thanks!

Karen B (289)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:36 pm
Very interesting, thank you.

Anna M (18)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:42 pm
Great concept!

Rebecca D (13)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:43 pm
Sounds interesting, definatly a good idea

Larry S (391)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 4:57 pm
What an awesome idea! But, Big Biz won't like it...

David Gould (155)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 5:09 pm
You are right...the video answers a lot of questions. but and there is always a 'but' are up against some of the most powerful lobbies on earth...the road construction industry with their vested interests in short lived road surfaces.

But I just love the simplicity of this whole system. We need to be thinking out of the box like this.

Good one.

Deborah O (98)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 5:21 pm
When we do get solar roads, please let's not allow the political hacks that have suckled at the teats of coal and big oil to name them after other political hacks. Let's name them after Tecumseh, Dorothea Dix, Steve Irwin, Margaret Sanger...let's honor the memory of one who deserves it rather than honor those who demonstrated a blatant lack of honor in office.

. (0)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 5:26 pm
thank you al interesting subject

Erin R (181)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 5:56 pm

Barbara K (60)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 6:50 pm
Super idea! And I hope they can come up with a way to use them in the snow areas, so they're not wrecked by the plows. Yes, keep the politicians out of it.

H Nick H (1826)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 8:15 pm
When we open our minds to other possiblities, things come in that we would never have thought of. As long as big corporations (like oil, elec, banks, insurance); they will stop any creative ideas. We must change the way things are done in Washington, and Obama was the first change. Now we need to get behind him and make things happen. Together, we can make the world a much better place.

US Veteran (95)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 8:18 pm
Solar Powered roads with radiant de-icing would be awsome!

Kimberly Lewis (24)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 8:32 pm
Um, When can get these? Please, Please!

Kimberly Lewis (24)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 8:37 pm
Wait a second, how much would cost to repair the roads after damages. People are already complaining about the cost of taxes for roads, now. This would be really expensive?

Cynthia Davis (340)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 9:41 pm
Very Interesting TY AL

Electra Cy (1005)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:06 pm

I've always wondered why Solar was so expensive...
Did you know the Panels are basically made of sand? More common than dirt.

Thanks Al for the Article, and Arild for sending it to me.

HUGZ ~ Electra :)

BTW "Clean Coal?" Do they really think we're stupid? There's no such thing.

Past Member (0)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:18 pm
Thanks, Al!

. (0)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:32 pm
Thannnnxx this should become compulsory for all highways...

greenplanet e (155)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:38 pm
Then solar cars to go on the solar roads?

Gloria L (58)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:45 pm
I love this idea.

greenplanet e (155)
Saturday February 6, 2010, 10:54 pm
Did the "YERT: Your environmental road trip" movie get completed? Sounds like the film-makers came across some innovative "green" ideas on their road trip.

Abdessalam Diab (145)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 1:10 am
Solar energy may be the cleanest power ever

Ben O (172)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 1:13 am
It would be great to see only electric cars on solar roadways!
(maybe in the next life...?)

Al Baars (27)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 1:17 am
Wait a second, how much would cost to repair the roads after damages. People are already complaining about the cost of taxes for roads, now. This would be really expensive?

Since the roads last three times longer than asphalt (21 years) the cost would be reduced, and since after the 21 years the panels are refurbished, not replaced, the cost would be lower. Also bear in mind taxes might actually go down, since eventually there would be no need for power plant subsidies.

Now if only they could incorporate proximity charging for electric cars into the panels. Then cars could charge while at traffic lights or even while driving?

. (0)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 2:25 am
I think it is a great idea, but you will fight the energy industry on it.They do not want you or this country to be energy independent.

Lisa Lock (46)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 3:02 am
Fantastic idea, with you all the way.

Joanne C (47)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 3:48 am
Great idea! Noted. Thanks to Cathi for sending me the link x

Bill C (91)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 3:49 am
Interesting idea! An interesting idea would also be to consume less energy. Thanks for sharing.

Ben O (172)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 5:28 am
"The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun"
(Ralph Nader, 1980)

. (0)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 5:46 am
Noted, this would solve many problems, great post, thanks! LOL Ben, how very true :-)

Al Baars (27)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 9:20 am
I suppose this product will only come to the marketplace when there is overwhelming public demand. The question is how much public demand is equal to x amount of lobby cash.

The oil industry doesn't want the US to become energy independent. If they weren't already meddling in the affairs of state we would have the fuel economy standards the UK enjoys.

Still, we must fight on. Because the alternative is to give up, and what fun is that?

. (0)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 10:35 am
Al, I'm greatly enthused by the enormous potential of the Solar Roadway concept and pray God's speed to overcoming the technical challenges in development as outlined by the Scientific American article linked at the SR site. I am working today on an article first to be published on Green Education Network and then posted here on Care2, in an effort to explain the imperative championed by the March On Washington group here on Care2:

We must reverse the take-over of our government, our Treasury, our politicians, our election system and even the Supreme Court by the short-sighted greed of corporate elites. If we do not, there will never be a Solar Roadway or any other means to achieve sustainability and thwart the destruction of the resources and climate on which all life depends.

Last night I chained myself down and wrapped duct tape around my mouth so as to be able to listen to Sara Palin's speech to Tea Party conventioneers. She received a standing ovation when she said in effect the priority for all things energy-related should be to pump U.S. land and offshore oil and gas like mad, and mine and burn coal like there's no tomorrow! I removed the duct tape afterward and am grateful my neighbors did not call the police for the fusilade of 4-letter words I issued to the atmosphere.

I will include a link to the SR site in the article I spoke of, as a prime example of the kind of technology we should be investing in, and will argue against HUGE spending on the paving of highways with asphalt (oil-based!)and concrete (its production is a major source of atmospheric pollution!).
Will also bring this to the attention of Greenhouse Neutral Foundation, with which GEN is closely allied, though I would be surprised if they have not already posted about it. In the meantime thank you again for this post and also for accepting my friend request. I hope Al you'll consider joining the group I mentioned even if you are not the marching type, I note many commenters here are already members, good on them! Here's the link:


Kari D (192)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 1:19 pm
I LIKE This Idea!!!!!!!

Tierney G (381)
Sunday February 7, 2010, 3:22 pm
Fantastic! This is music to my ears and sunshine to my eyes love it! Thank you so much for posting Al

patricia lasek (317)
Monday February 8, 2010, 7:06 am
Energy independence, low maintenance, wildlife protection, no snow & ice on the roads and all the other benefits! What are we waiting for?????

. (0)
Monday February 8, 2010, 12:13 pm
Great news Al! Thanks for your efforts to explain! It's one of those ideas that seem like such a no-brainer - what took us so long?

Sue L (26)
Monday February 8, 2010, 1:21 pm
Incredible multi-faceted technology. It sounds like funding would need to come from a number of sources and be a team effort. It would be so hopeful if the current power companies could partner with these folks. Wow, what planet did I come from??? Maybe one day this will be the norm. I hope so. Thanks Al.

Marion Y (322)
Monday February 8, 2010, 1:42 pm
Outstanding concept!!! Thanks, Al!!

"Imagine a world-wide system where the "lit" half of the world is always powering the "dark" half of the world!

"Everyone has power. No more power shortages, no more roaming power outages, no more need to burn coal (50% of greenhouse gases). Less need for fossil fuels and less dependency upon foreign oil. Much less pollution. How about this for a long term advantage: an electric road allows all-electric vehicles to recharge anywhere: rest stops, parking lots, etc. They would then have the same range as a gasoline-powered vehicle. Internal combustion engines would become obsolete. Our dependency on oil would come to an abrupt end. "


Deanna Zimmerman (74)
Monday February 15, 2010, 11:57 pm
I love this. Thanks Al. Noted.

Vanda H (459)
Tuesday February 23, 2010, 9:11 pm
.This is great!! Thank you for sharing it with us!

Winefred M (88)
Thursday February 25, 2010, 5:25 pm
That's great news.

Marvin Green (55)
Saturday February 27, 2010, 1:50 pm
Maybe we should have spent all the bail out money we wasted on a program like this. It sound like a winner to me. But I really doubt that big oil or big coal will let anything like this happen. It would be like releasing that carbureator that will let you get 100 miles to the gallon. And you know they have one don't you?
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