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Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:33 pm
by ldmitruk
About a month or so ago Solar Roadways made a big splash on the net when they raised over $2,000,000.00 in funding. They claim if all roadways are made/replaced with their technology can generate enough electricity to power the entire grid while having enough left over to generate lanes, signage etc. using embedded LED's. Of course there have been a number of rebuttals to the claims made by several people on the actual feasibility of the technology.

Personally I'm not sure glass tiles are a good surface to drive on and would have major problem with durability. In addition I don't think the panels would work very well in northern regions.

So what's your take on Solar Roadways?

Cheers!

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:46 pm
by WarK
It's bollocks.

Regular road surface is difficult to maintain. Potholes appear after every winter. Lorries leave grooves that have to be evened out by resurfacing the road. I don't think the people who invented it have ever seen a real road.

Thunderf00t made vids taking the piss out of the idea... in his typical thunderf00t style.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 2:54 pm
by Engelbert
I've not heard of this before, but it sounds like an interesting idea. Would you be able to link to somewhere?

If I'm imagining correctly here, it sounds as though the proposal is that roads could be made from PV panels... That sounds like a slightly dodgy idea to me, since I'd imagine that wear and tear would make maintenance difficult and rather expensive. (Would reflections be a problem?) If they think it can be genuinely done, then I'd be interested to read about it.

I recall once hearing about the development or attempted development of photovoltaic paint. If this eventually becomes a viable idea, perhaps painting the roads with PV paint could be a way to generate solar power. Perhaps this is the way these Solar Roadways are being envisaged. This sounds more plausible to me, since the road material would remain the same, and simply require PV paint... which sounds far more plausible IF PV paint has become, or does become viable.


However, running PV panels along the sides of roads seems like a potential thought, since roadsides are often wasteland and undesirable for residential building. Finding large areas to lay PV panels is one of their problems, but perhaps laying them alongside roads and highways in some way might be a good idea. I'd like to hear more about it and if PV by the sides of roads is an additional consideration in the Solar Roadways, since costs, plausibility, safety and potential benefits would all count in evaluating the idea, but it sounds interesting.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 3:17 pm
by Dragan Glas
Greetings,

I'd have thought a better idea would be to lay down a "net" under the surface of roads to absorb heat during hot weather to help supply the national grid.

During winter, the process would work in reverse by heating the roads to prevent snow and - particularly - ice from forming, causing accidents.

It really needs economists to compare the costs of road traffic accidents to industry and the healthcare system versus the costs of installation and the heating of roads.

Just a thought! ;)

Kindest regards,

James

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 4:06 pm
by Inferno
At first, I was all for the idea. Sadly, it seems that neither the scientific nor the economic side is viable. I seem to remember it would take about 800$ trillion just to "pave" the motorways in the US. That's not including cities, parking lots, smaller streets in the country side, etc. Let alone other countries.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:19 pm
by ldmitruk
Some links as requested by Engelbert

Solar Roadways


Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:43 pm
by Engelbert
Thanks idmitruk.

I'll have a look at some of these.

To be honest, this doesn't sound like the worst idea I've ever heard. Conceptually, it sounds like a reasonably good idea. Although, practically I can imagine many challenges it would need to overcome. However, I did notice that it wasn't just proposing solar roadways, but solar pavements, driveways, sports parks and car-parks. If the solar energy eventually paid for the costs of installation on things other than roads such as these, then I don't initially see major reasons to object. These hexagons might not be well suited to heavy traffic and the wear and tear of the roads, but how much of a problem would they be on pavements? ...A more feasible possibility perhaps?

I'm inclined not to write this off immediately, although clearly the point inferno makes might be the most pertinent. Perhaps the panels could be installed without all the additional bells and whistles, which I'm sure increase the price and are potentially the source of some of the critique: eg. the LED's. Anyhow, I'll check it out. Thanks.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:13 am
by scalyblue
I can see them being feasable in, say, the outer fringes of large parking lots or low speed access roads, like airport terminal beltways, but paving a heavily trafficked highway with fragile, slippery, inflexible panels is a recipe for wasteful disaster.

Furthermore, it takes my town several years to fix a pothole; I'd hate to see what would happen with a broken panel that would cost 100-1000x more and require involving more than one union, because those roadworkers aren't going to touch anything electrical and the electrical workers aren't going to touch any signage.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:53 am
by Visaki
I have to say that I agree with Thunderfoot on this one; there are way too many problems that are being sugercoated or glossed over. When I first read about solar roadways I had three thoughts; is glass really a viable surface, how can one get good power from surface that is pretty much always very dirty as a road is (and in many parts under heavy erosion), and how on Earth are they going to make the leds visible in sunlight. Personally I think that the idea, though intriguing, isn't really feasible at this moment or in the near future in general use. Maybe in some limited way on airport sidewalks or other similar cases in which the limitations can be overcome.

Unfortenately our (Filands that is) largest newspaper ran a spread on these which was pretty much a rerun of all the claims the solar roadways people have made with no critical thinking or actual journalism at all. I was very dispointed in them.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:15 pm
by ldmitruk
Visaki wrote:I have to say that I agree with Thunderfoot on this one; there are way too many problems that are being sugercoated or glossed over. When I first read about solar roadways I had three thoughts; is glass really a viable surface, how can one get good power from surface that is pretty much always very dirty as a road is (and in many parts under heavy erosion), and how on Earth are they going to make the leds visible in sunlight. Personally I think that the idea, though intriguing, isn't really feasible at this moment or in the near future in general use. Maybe in some limited way on airport sidewalks or other similar cases in which the limitations can be overcome.

Unfortenately our (Filands that is) largest newspaper ran a spread on these which was pretty much a rerun of all the claims the solar roadways people have made with no critical thinking or actual journalism at all. I was very dispointed in them.


I can see solar roadways in Finland and Canada or any other northern area during the winter would be a non-starter. The amount of sand a gravel used here in Edmonton for traction would just grind the surface down quickly. Another issue is the sealing between the tiles. We have enough problems with frost heave on regular asphalt and the freeze thaw cycles during the spring. I suspect the tiles would lift and shift quite easily in our environment.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:35 pm
by WarK
ldmitruk wrote: I can see solar roadways in Finland and Canada or any other northern area during the winter would be a non-starter. The amount of sand a gravel used here in Edmonton for traction would just grind the surface down quickly. Another issue is the sealing between the tiles. We have enough problems with frost heave on regular asphalt and the freeze thaw cycles during the spring. I suspect the tiles would lift and shift quite easily in our environment.


Well, maybe the inventors are from California and they don't know about winters and stuff?

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:46 pm
by Duvelthehobbit666
WarK wrote:Well, maybe the inventors are from California and they don't know about winters and stuff?

Possible> Could also be that they didn't fully think this through. Had some idea that roads take up too much space, why not replace it with solar panels you can drive on. But it is at least not as bad as trying to stop global warming by installing giant air conditioners everywhere.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:55 pm
by Master_Ghost_Knight
Is it a good idea? No!
I'm not really worried about the glass part which many people seem to be stuck on, there are other materials that can be made transparent and are much more durable than glass, they are however more expensive. Not that it would matter, the rubber that is shed from the tires and oils you make the surface pretty much black really quickly. The people working on this clearly didn't think this trough. Why the hell are they hexagonal, and not let's say squares? Because at least with squares you could pave a city block whit only one type of block instead of having to produce as well wonky half block for the edges. But why did he picked that shape? Because hexagons are cool and look futuristic. That is about as much taught that went into it.
Not that the shape would matter much when roads are in general shaped like this:
Image


The first thing I taught to myself when I heard of this was, "this would transform our garbage problem into a nightmare". The claims of environmental friendliness is bullshit, they are advocating that we cover all the roads with electronics, that is electrical boards, resistors, integrated chips, LEDs, all that those things that we don't really know how to recycle well. And you better be prepared to replace those tiles allot. And all those tiles you replace will have to end out somewhere.

The problems with it are endless, I don't need to go on about the efficiency, costs so on and so forth, other people have done that.
There seams to be this misunderstanding that smart things (and I mean smart meaning that it has a processor to compute things) or that active electronic gizmos are better or that this is what technology is, they are not. Often it is quite the opposite.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:10 am
by he_who_is_nobody
Duvelthehobbit666 wrote:... trying to stop global warming by installing giant air conditioners everywhere.


That is a brilliant idea! To KickStarter!

:lol:

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 1:46 am
by Mugnuts
I think that the only possible way to redeem this idea is stick to small scale. Put'em in mall parking lots or sports stadiums and have them change showing open stalls, easier exit access etc. Or just scrap the idea all together and invent something practical.

Proposing this idea to highways and regular roadways is ludicrous.

I can't help but get the picture out of my head that they will propose next they are looking into integrating iRoomba technology and claim that when the roads are not in use the panels will pop up and tidy up the area.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 1:55 pm
by Nemesiah
I imagine these glass roads getting wet and a 60 ton truck trying to stop while traveling at 60 mph. I don't imagine the ending to be preety.

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:22 pm
by ldmitruk
Mugnuts wrote:I can't help but get the picture out of my head that they will propose next they are looking into integrating iRoomba technology and claim that when the roads are not in use the panels will pop up and tidy up the area.


I hope they come up with something better. iRoomba's are quite stupid. :lol:

Re: Solar Roadways are they Feasible?

PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:24 pm
by Milktoast
Nemesiah wrote:I imagine these glass roads getting wet and a 60 ton truck trying to stop while traveling at 60 mph. I don't imagine the ending to be pretty.


The funny thing is that the best place for solar roads is not on Earth but on the moon, where inclement weather would be a non issue. It would be possible if photovoltaic cells were far more durable and cheaper than is present, so cheap as to be able to be made on site. Only the middle ground would be such, the other a track which is assessed on each or nearly each pass by computer. Sinter in some lunar fine dust occasionally by robot vehicles and pothole would not get beyond a millimeter or two stage. Moon Miner Manifesto (MMM) had a few articles on this sort of thing about 15 to 20 years ago.

At the 14 day night time all other than emergency vehicles should be in safe havens. This would be 90 Earth days long night/day for most of Mercury, where eventually people may settle as well. Other locations are much less useful with the idea, like Mars/Asteroids.