We’ve been hearing whispered rumors of solar roads for almost ten years. Where are they? Is there a future for solar roads? Although roads haven’t made a widespread appearance, a handful of universities and organizations have experimented with photovoltaic pavement including driveways, walking paths, and parking lots. The idea is to increase energy efficiency by incorporating solar-harnessing materials into roadways. These roads offer phenomenal benefits: the ability to power streetlamps, warm up ice and snow, and provide LEDs that double as traffic lanes. It’s not impossible.
Although becoming energy-efficient is a commendable effort, this futuristic accessory may be just a little too far out of reach. Many obstacles have halted their immediate progress. Take a look:
The cost is a whopping 90 times the cost of a regular road installation. Although there are convenient bells and whistles attached to these roads, many argue that the widespread implementation would be a very poor use of taxpayer dollars. China’s 1 kilometer long solar road costed about $458 per square meter.
Homes are an ideal place to install solar panels. Angled towards the sun, they are at an optimal place to receive full sun exposure. The purpose of solar panels is to collect as much light as possible. Slanted solar roads? Probably won’t work quite as well. Cars would prevent tons of light from reaching the glassy pavement, especially during rush hour.
Perhaps the biggest issue with solar roads is the package of safety concerns attached. Solar panels need to be partly transparent, but a composition of glass or smooth rock wouldn’t fare too well in a severe hail or snow storm. The lack of gravel and rock that gives the road friction would make it difficult for cars to stay safe on the road.
So although solar roads would provide an enormous amount of renewable energy, the development process may take another decade. Regardless of the progress of solar roads, the path to sustainable living for homeowners is much more inexpensive. Solar panels reduce the monthly cost of utility bills in most locations. Fill out the form on our website for a free quote!