Solar pavement

Can you imagine the world in which all the roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways as well as outdoor recreation services such a basketball courts would be covered in solar panels? But not just in ordinary solar panels. In smart, micro-processing, interlocking, hexagonal solar units. Just like these:

solarroad-inline

When I first heard about this solar pavements, I thought it’s just a plan, a scratch, an idea that could possibly get brought into real life in years (something like a plans of building new train station in Bratislava)… in fact it is not only a plan still kept in a theoretical levels. It’s something real, that already exists, has it’s shape, form, something that people already use in real life. Except for some small pieces of pavements in Idaho, USA on which the founders Scott and Julie Brusaw test the solar units, we can find some tracks of it already in Europe also. In the Netherlands 70 m long cycle track was able to produce in half a year so much electricity that would be enough for one household for a year.

The fact that the solar pavements generate electricity it’s only one of few functions that this device of future possesses. Very useful function is, that the units can be programmed to keep their surface temperature few degrees above freezing. Which would mean no more snow on roads causing accidents or injuries.

Every panel has also a series of LED lights on the circuit board that could be programmed to make landscape designs, warning signs, parking lot configurations,… Such roads will never have to have lines re-painted, just re-programmed.

They are also pressure sensitive, so they can detect when large debris like boulders or branches have fallen onto the road or if an animal is crossing. The road then can “warn”a driver with LED text to slow down for an obstruction.

The technology is in its early stages still, mainly for lack of financing. Although there have been some particular projects launched, it still searches the funding, also through crowd-funding websites but it was recently granted a contract from Federal Highway Administration of USA to build two prototypes. Let’s hope that soon, we will be able to have a walk on such a pavement in Slovakia too.

Seems like future is here.

Katarína Farkašová

 

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