Solar Roadways?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election



  • My main questions are:

    1. How does it hold up during a rollover car crash event?
    2. What percentage of the road can fail and still remain operational?
    3. How would the road handle a 52 foot truck tire blowout?
    4. What is the weight limit of the road?
    5. How do the panels work at grade?
    6. How are different curve radii handled?
    7. What are the maintenance costs?
    8. How hard is it to steal a panel?
    9. What are the surface's earthquake/fire/tornado performance properties?
    10. How tamper-proof are the roads/panels?
    11. Tree roots vs. road - who wins?

    The idea has a lot of potential, but I think that, ultimately, the real-world needs for road geometry will relegate this tech to low grade roads and parking lots. Too much of the US is rural road that rarely, if ever, receives maintenance.


  • mod

    I think it has the potential to be practical. I can think of a few things that push it more toward the pipedream:

    • If this were put into use in high traffic areas (e.g., CA's bay area, much of America's east coast), would the solar panels really see enough sun to be effective?
    • What's the power balance of keeping the panels above freezing (I think the video said 8 degrees above)? At that point, are the panels using more power than they are generating, or are they still contributing to the power grid? Same question with the built in LED's, especially in locations that see very little sun in the winter (looking at you Canada/Alaska/etc.).
    • What's the cost effectiveness of putting this into use on more remote roads? Take into consideration distance from maintenance centers, ease of access, and then there's the cost to transport the generated/consumed electricity, and probably more that I'm not even thinking of.
    • What's the cost to transition to these panels from more traditional road materials, including the expense of wiring these roads into existing power grids.
    • How durable are these panels? They claim to be built to handle cold temperatures, but what about high temps?

    In the end, I don't think these will see widespread acceptance. They might be used in private driveways, maybe a few cities will do test zones, and maybe a few rec centers will use them to surface some stuff, but that will probably be it.



  • I'm not gonna watch this whole video, the first 30 seconds were painful enough.

    Solar roadways belong in the "Side Bar WTF" category. They're more expensive (probably MUCH more expensive) than standard solar panels and offer no real advantage other than taking up no space. But cost is precisely the bottleneck of solar panels, you don't see people complaining they don't have enough space on their roof to put more solar panels.



  • @anonymous234 said:

    Solar roadways belong in the "Side Bar WTF" category.

    I think they would fit right in on the Bad Ideas thread. I can't see them scaling to be anything significant. Unless they've come up with a new way to make solar panels that don't rely on rare earth shit.



  • I'm really turned off by the snakeoil salesman quality of the video, they barely stop short of saying it's going to cure cancer and create world peace.

    That aside... it's a cool idea that seems like it would be more practical in smaller implementations like sidewalks and park walkways; you know, places that aren't under literal tons of stress constantly. Further down that road... is the problem with solar really a matter of where to put it? there are tons of roofs out there that are vacant and don't have nearly the same number of problems as roads.

    Again — cool futuristic idea, but they seem to have intentionally found the least practical application for solar panels (aside from burying them underground).


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @awesomerobot said:

    I'm really turned off by the snakeoil salesman quality of the video, they barely stop short of saying it's going to cure cancer and create world peace.

    Funny thing, I have no audio at the workplace. A coworker sent me the link, and I skimmed the available text, and I posted it here to get outside opinions (more accurately, to get negative opinions to counterbalance the marketing hype). But yeah, I posted a video I've never watched.

    @awesomerobot said:

    you know, places that aren't under literal tons of stress constantly.

    They seem to think it can handle large loads.

    Personally, I'm more attracted to the dynamic changing of LEDs. You could put up warning signs for construction, light dark areas, label personalized parking spaces, advertise Pepsi products



  • @error said:

    They seem to think it can handle large loads.

    Part of the video show a back hoe (or something like that...I forget exactly what now) driving on top of some. Of course, that doesn't say anything about its endurance. Or what you have to put under them in the first place.



  • @error said:

    Personally, I'm more attracted to the dynamic changing of LEDs. You could put up warning signs for construction, light dark areas, label personalized parking spaces, advertise Pepsi products

    You could even have glitches where the road suddenly orients itself in a different direction. Take that, roads made of inexpensive materials!


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @ben_lubar said:

    You could even have glitches where the road suddenly orients itself in a different direction. Take that, roads made of inexpensive materials!

    Are you saying this could be the Discourse of roadways?



  • Two things occur to me (neither are positive!);

    One is cost (as mentioned). The cost of a solar panel must be truly astronomical compared to a lump of tarmac, both in terms of raw materials and the labo(u)r to fit it.
    The other, as a biker, is whether it would be possible to make a solar surface that did not have a coefficient of friction akin to frozen glass...?

    Oh - and one other bonus point; I have no idea what solar panels are made of but I wonder how much of whatever the primary active ingredient is, is actually available in anywhere near the abundance to cover all of these surfaces?



  • @skotl said:

    I have no idea what solar panels are made of but I wonder how much of whatever the primary active ingredient is, is actually available in anywhere near the abundance to cover all of these surfaces?

    @WIkipedia said:

    Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure free element in nature. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. Over 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.[7]

    Discourse won't let me post this pasted text from Wikipedia unless I add some text that isn't formatted as a quote.



  • Well, awesome, let all the roads be made of solar panels, then 😆


  • mod

    @skotl said:

    The other, as a biker, is whether it would be possible to make a solar surface that did not have a coefficient of friction akin to frozen glass...?

    The video did say something about a textured surface for traction purposes. If they didn't have that, this would be shit in the rain, or on hills.



  • @skotl said:

    The other, as a biker...

    I'm a motorcyclist too and I'm always wary of new road technologies because too many of those ivory tower thinktanks either forget we exist or wish we'd go away, and propose stuff that would either kill bikers or force us to give up. Example, solar roadways (possibly) and all the self-driving computer-controlled intercommunicating Wi-Fi car ideas that would be cost-prohibitive and potentially dangerous to put on a bike.



  • @mott555 said:

    I'm a motorcyclist too and I'm always wary of new road technologies because too many of those ivory tower thinktanks either forget we exist or wish we'd go away, and propose stuff that would either kill bikers or force us to give up. Example, solar roadways (possibly) and all the self-driving computer-controlled intercommunicating Wi-Fi car ideas that would be cost-prohibitive and potentially dangerous to put on a bike.

    Don't forget the mandated use of ethanol that plays hell with the higher compression engines in motorcycles - particularly when carburetors are the fuel delivery mechanism or they are air cooled (not a problem for cars since the early 80s, but is with smaller road bikes and until a couple of years ago even bigger bikes like Harley Sportsters)



  • @DrakeSmith said:

    Don't forget the mandated use of ethanol that plays hell with the higher compression engines in motorcycles - particularly when carburetors are the fuel delivery mechanism or they are air cooled (not a problem for cars since the early 80s, but is with smaller road bikes and until a couple of years ago even bigger bikes like Harley Sportsters)

    Thankfully I live in a state where you can still get straight gasoline. My last state had mandatory ethanol and that was one of the reasons I sold off my gas pickup and replaced it with a diesel one.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @rad131304 said:

    Tree roots vs. road - who wins?

    Tree roots, always. Same as with ordinary roads given a bit of time and not enough maintenance. Trees are amazing.



  • @error said:

    They seem to think it can handle large loads.

    I'm sure it can, but there are plenty of places to put solar panels that don't need to - so I'm just not sure why you'd put something under constant stress that doesn't really need to be put under constant stress.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @awesomerobot said:

    I'm just not sure why you'd put something under constant stress that doesn't really need to be put under constant stress.

    I'm sure that would seem sensible to some managers, given how they feel they must treat their staff…


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