Solar Roadways

The DOT has just agreed to invest in something very interesting.

They’re providing some proof-of-concept funding for Solar Roadways. The idea is to replace roads with a layer of solar panels underneath glass — the roads would become self-marking, self-heating to melt snow, and would provide energy to the grid.

Personally, I’ve got my doubts about how much I would enjoy driving on a glass surface at high speeds. But with the amount of money the feds are pissing down the rathole on other projects, at least this one might be a little bit entertaining.

Pitt, you’re our resident engineer. How many problems can _you_ find with this idea in thirty seconds or less?

2 Responses to “Solar Roadways”

  1. Pitt says:

    #1 it will be expensive
    #2 hooking them all up to the “grid”
    #3 what happens when its not sunny?
    #4 current solar panel efficiency is ~12%. That’s why you can’t plaster a car in solar panels and expect to get enough juice to get it to actually move, even in the middle of the desert at midday.
    #5, like you mentioned, the coefficient of friction would be interesting. Making it rough enough to drive on might scatter the light and render the solar panels even more ineffective.

    Overall, I think the funds would be more efficiently spent on figuring out how to convert the decomposing body of Ted Kennedy into ethanol. But government, like solar panels, seems doomed to be inefficient.

  2. BrianN says:

    #6 How well will it work when it gets dirty. (or do we have to wash off our tires before driving)

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