24 June 2014,
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A family-run company based in Idaho have designed a new road surface that harnesses the sun’s energy to send renewable energy to local houses and businesses.
The surface consists of layered hexagons embedded with solar cells that can also provide power for electric cars. LEDs within the panels can be lit to create smart digital driving surfaces displaying road markings or messages.
The company claim that if the solar roads were rolled out over the whole US the amount of renewable energy it would generate would exceed the country’s usage. The electricity can be transferred to nearby buildings, can charge electric cars, and the panels can also be heated to melt ice and snow. The prototype road surface is made of 10% recycled glass.
The husband and wife team received funding in 2009 from the Federal Highway Administration in the US to make their prototype. They are now looking for funding to start mass production. The costs of installation are unknown but are expected to be released in July. The company do say that a commercialised solar roadway will provide enough power to pay for itself over its lifespan.
Sources: Huffington Post May 2014, Grist online May 2014, Wired online May 2014