Saturday, March 26, 2011

Solar Highways

Kudos to my mom, who will occasionally sends me something about urban design, planning, transportation, development or just cities. I want to comment on one of them pertaining to solar highways. The video is here and the company, called Solar Roadways, has a website that can be found here.

I like the idea. While I think the pendulum has swung too far into the car-oriented direction in this country, on the surface, this is a great product that would diversify existing infrastructure.

Think about the millions upon millions of miles of roadway in this country. While the idea of power generation is obvious, there are other perks to this. In the urban areas, streets don't just serve as a conduit for cars, they serve as a place for utilities, sewers, above and below ground transit and really anything else you can imagine being buried within that right of way.

Outside of the urban areas, including some exurban and even suburban areas, streets and highways are only for car use. Imagine a system where instead of a grid, you have a net (or a different type of grid), but instead of the traditional substation powering a certain part of the grid (and thereby making it faulty should something happento it causing failure to that part), this would power at all areas, deliver power at all areas and reroute any outings.

I really think this has the opportunity to be something special, should it be able to navigate the political system. Sadly, I just don't see this being embraced in Texas. Were I a gambling man, I would put money on the West Coast pioneering this, much like they have pioneered a lot of car-related programs. California or Oregon seem like a natural bet with Washington right up there, in the sunnier parts of the state.

With all the highways, roadways and parking lots in this country, the sky seems the limit for this type of power. I referenced the political system earlier and I could see a lot of push back from the road building lobby, and primarily the asphalt producers and installers.

Time will tell on this idea, but it certainly fits the bill of green industry touted by the President.

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