Solar panel roads a step closer to reality

It may seem crazy and farfetched, but a company in the US is a step closer to make roads completely out of solar panels.

The Solar Roadways project has been testing their latest prototypes and in a recent experiment to construct a car park, researchers said it had exceeded all expectations.

Designed as an alternative to the costly and environment-damaging asphalt roads, founders Scott and Julie Brusaw have raised more than $1 million to create prototypes and develop test situations.

However, the couple are needing another million to continue the project when funding from the US Federal Highway Administration ends in July. According to Solar Roadways, a congested road will still have enough energy to fuel electric vehicles in the future, an exciting prospect for any fleet manager interested in investigating efficient fuel consumption techniques. Despite still being years away, there has been endless media attention for the project in recent months.

A glass shell plate allows sunlight to hit the solar panels inside the plate. Each panel is individual and can hold up to 113,000 kilograms to protect the solar technology and the circuit board that creates the electricity.

Installed in the plates are small multicoloured LED lights. This also means transport authorities can display messages on the road to warn fleet services of accidents for information on road conditions.

So far, the technology has been able to charge static objects such as road signs and heating systems, but it is hoped electric vehicles will also be able to connect to the solar panels. This would mean as long as the vehicle is on the solar road, the 'fuel' would never go down.

Electric vehicles, unlike solar roads, are available today and fleet services that invest in these vehicles can experience severely reduced costs and will be doing their part for a sustainable future.