Great ideas often fade into the vast emptiness of history before being realized or appreciated.
The bigger the idea, the less likely it is to gain traction. That’s usually because big ideas take big money and usually require some kind of shift in paradigm.
Challenging the status quo is so hard because people like doing things they way they’ve always been done. Even if a new way is better or makes more sense, those invested in the old way will make progress very difficult. The way we build roads is a prime example.
Many of the roads we drive on are as old as vehicles themselves. They are a crumbling mass of expansive and expensive asphalt that become ice rinks in the winter and chunked-out obstacle courses come spring.
An Idaho company has a big idea to change things, and wants to cover the U.S. in solar-powered glass roads that provide electricity, melt ice and safely guide motorists with built-in LED lighting.
We wrote about Solar Roadways back in 2011, when the company had just received a $750,000 federal grant to build and study a parking lot made from solar panels.
The small parking lot was a success and exceeded expectations, and now the company has embarked on a social media campaign to raise a million dollars to further its cause. To date, about $60,000 has been raised.
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.
The logistics of replacing roads with solar panels is a major undertaking, but if the benefits are there, we can start thinking about changing the paradigm of what we use to build our roads and, even more importantly, what our roads can give back to all of us.
The concept of solar roads appears to be proving itself. Would you like to see them in your city?