‘The Solar Roadway’ is getting a test along the iconic Route 66.
Route 66, a highway that stretches from Los Angeles to Chicago, was made famous by singers like Chuck Berry, Depeche Mode, the Rolling Stones and Nat King Cole. The over 2000-mile highway is about to become even more notorious though, with plans to make Rout 66 the first solar roadway in the United States.
Working with an Idaho-based company called Roadway Solar, the Missouri Department of transportation, along with $2.25 million in funds that were largely crowd-funded, will pave parts of Interstate 70 and Route 66 with interactive solar panels. The project is being called Road To Tomorrow.
This means that “getting your kicks on Route 66” as the song says, will translate to being able to charge your electric vehicle with power from the sun, stored in the roadway itself. Supporters of the project say that it will bring history and the future of travel in the US together.
“If their version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves,” Tom Blair, head of the Road to Tomorrow Initiative at the MoDOT, told the Kansas City Star.
Blair expects to see the super strong solar panels in place before the snow falls this year.
The roads will also contain LED lights, also solar powered, that can be controlled by a remote operator so that they may change in accordance with traffic demands. This means that roadways don’t have to be painted and repainted over time.
Surprisingly, the solar panels are made of a specifically formulated, tempered glass, but can withstand the weight of enormous semi-trucks. It is also tractioned, like asphalt to make roads safe.
Solar Roadways hopes to offer their solar panels for use along more US highways, and their technology has been tested. They state that their glass solar panels are better than concrete or asphalt for durability, and obviously, neither of those materials provides free energy which could transform the transportation system into a self-perpetuating, sustainably-powered utopia.
The world’s roads, after all, reflect the sun’s rays more than 90 percent of the time.
In countries like the Netherlands, solar roadways are already in use, and they are working better than engineers expected. Solar is also becoming extremely competitive with dirty energies like coal and gas. The first solar sidewalk, in fact, was up and running just a few years ago. We’ve really only just begun to explore the power of creating energy with the sun.
With constant advances in solar technology, making solar one of the cheapest alternative energies today; sidewalks, streets, and highways could soon all be creating energy from the sun for our use.
It seems that when the fossil fuel companies are no longer propped up with government subsidies, and petro wars, we can accomplish just about anything.
Featured image: Theverge