Solar Roadways, the developer of structurally engineered solar panels that are driven upon., has been nanmed one of five finalists for the Best Enabler Award for Green Engineering category in the 2009 EE Times Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE) Awards.
Solar Roadway”s concept is to replace all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels that collect and store solar energy to be used by homes and businesses.
Each individual panel consists of three basic layers:
Road Surface Layer. Translucent and high-strength, it is rough enough to provide good traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the solar collector cells. It is capable of handling today’s heaviest loads under the worst of conditions. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer beneath it.
Electronics Layer. Contains a large array of cells, the bulk of which will contain solar collecting cells with LEDs for painting the road surface. These cells also contain ultracapacitors that store energy for later use. Each Solar Road Panel manages its own electricity generation, storage, and distribution, and they can heat themselves in northern climates to eliminate snow and ice accumulation. (No more snow/ice removal and no more school/business closings due to inclement weather.) On-board microprocessors control lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a communications device every 12 feet, the Solar Roadway is an intelligent highway system.
Base Plate Layer. While the electronics layer collects and stores the energy from the sun, it is the base plate layer that distributes power (collected from the electronics layer) and data signals (phone, TV, internet, etc.) downline to homes and businesses connected to the Solar Roadway. The power and data signals are passed through each of the four sides of the base plate layer. Weatherproof, it protects the electronics layer above it.
Based on 15% efficiency, each Solar Road Panel can produce an average of 7.6 kWh per day. A hypothetical 4-lane, one-mile stretch of road would require 1,760 Solar Road Panels, capable of producing 13,376 kWh of electricity per day, or some 4,882,240 kWh per year—enough to take 500 homes completely off-grid.
4.84 billion (12’ by 12’) Solar Road Panels would be required to replace the current asphalt road system, parking lots, and driveways in the 48 contiguous states.
Solar Roadways is planning a 21-year life for each panel.