What if one single source of renewable energy could replace our reliance on coal-fired energy? That’s the dream of electrical engineer Scott Brusaw, who, for the better part of a decade, has been working on just such a project. His idea? Cover all the roadways and parking lots in the US with photovoltaic panels to harvest the power of the sun. In the intervening eight years, Brusaw and his wife have received two rounds of funding from the US Federal Highway Administration to develop Solar Roadways.
If there’s one big problem with centralized solar power facilities it’s that finding the space to build them is quite difficult. But what if you could take existing infrastructure and put it to other uses? Idaho-based Solar Roadways aims to do just that, and is crowdfunding a project to manufacture its interlocking solar panels on a wider scale–with the ambitious (but laudable) aim to meet our future power needs, charging electric cars, and even homes, using our roads. Before you even get to the product’s application, the product itself is rather fascinating, comprising hexagonal glass tiles that act as a solar panel and computer all in one. Glass doesn’t seem a natural fit for a product that’s designed to be driven on, but Solar Roadway founders Scott and Julie Brusaw have come up with a design and construction that stands up to the rigors of use–passing traction, load testing and impact resistance testing without issue.