It looks like roads that use solar power to melt snow are one step closer to becoming a reality--at least for a little stretch of Idaho. Solar Roadways received a $750,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to build a parking lot paved with solar panels.
Last year the green infrastructure company demoed a 12X12-foot prototype of its solar road as phase 1 of this new technology. The prototype was made up of solar panels, heating elements, and a grid of wireless LED lights encased in durable glass that has the same traction as asphalt and doesn't cause glare. The panels generate a total of 7.6 kilowatt hours of electricity per day that can be used to melt snow and ice, spell warnings for motorists, or be connected to weight sensitive panels that illuminate a crosswalk when activated. The solar road can also be connected to a smart grid to power nearby homes and businesses, or even electric cars.
With the concept vetted, the company wants to see how its technology will work on a larger scale. With the money from the FHA, it will construct phase 2 of the solar road project in the parking lot outside of its electronics lab in Sandpoint, Idaho, according to an article in The Spokesman-Review. By building in Solar Roadways' own backyard, it will be able to monitor the technology 24 hours a day in a controlled environment and under several load scenarios. If phase 2 is successful, company founder and CEO Scott Brusaw envisions the technology being used in sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. The last stop on the technology road map would be solar highways.