Make us your home page
Instagram

Solar Roadways wants its solar panels in roads

Scott Brusaw — with his wife, Julie Brusaw — wants to pave surfaces with his company’s solar panels, which can be driven on, as demonstrated by this prototype solar panel parking area in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Associated Press

Scott Brusaw — with his wife, Julie Brusaw — wants to pave surfaces with his company’s solar panels, which can be driven on, as demonstrated by this prototype solar panel parking area in Sandpoint, Idaho.

SPOKANE, Wash.

The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagonal panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.

"We need to rebuild our infrastructure," said Brusaw, the head of Solar Roadways, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, about 90 miles northeast of Spokane, Wash. His idea contains "something for everyone to like."

"Environmentalists like it," he said. "Climate change deniers like it because it creates jobs."

While the idea might sound outlandish to some, it has already garnered $850,000 in seed money from the federal government and raised more than $2 million on a crowdfunding website.

Solar Roadways is part of a larger movement that seeks to integrate renewable energy technology — including wind, geothermal and hydropower — seamlessly into society.

"They represent the type of creative innovation that addresses design and energy while showcasing the diversity of solar applications," said Tom Kimbis, a vice president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C.

Brusaw said that in addition to producing energy, the solar panels can melt away snow and ice, and they can even display warning messages or traffic lines with LED lights.

There are skeptics who wonder about the durability of the panels, which are covered by knobby, tempered glass.

Another problem would be how to store the electricity that could be generated, Evans said.

Brusaw has produced no estimates of how much the solar panels would cost, so the financial realities of his vision remain unknown.

To demonstrate the concept, the company has created a small parking lot at its headquarters, using 108 solar panels. Vehicles have been driven onto the space without damaging the panels, he said.

"It seems like something reasonable and something that is going to be very expensive," said Lamar Evans of the National Renewable Energy Association in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration gave Brusaw $850,000 to develop Solar Roadways over the past few years and to build the prototype parking lot.

This year, he turned to the Indiegogo crowdfunding site to raise additional money and move to the next phase.

Solar Roadways wants its solar panels in roads 07/15/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 8:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]