Inventor pushes solar panels for roads, highways
The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.I haven't seen his panels, but what I have seen, up close and personal, is the beating that a roadway takes from cars, trucks, and weather. Unless he has invented a solar panel that is stronger than concrete and will wear better than asphalt. Now, maybe he's invented a sophisticated electronic device that performs in a different manner than, well, every other sophisticated electronic device ever invented, and it keeps running despite environmental hazards and physical shock.
Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.
A few other things jump out at me. First, they've tested it on a small parking lot and claim that it holds up to wear and tear. Um, really? Did you drive an oversized, overweight truck over it? Subject it to three or four years of freeze/thaw/bake cycles? Send hundreds of thousands of vehicles speeding over it for month after month after month? No? You have a small, controlled area where you control what goes there and you think this can be extrapolated to a highway?
Remind me to steer clear of any project this guy has been involved in, would you?
The second thing was this:
The Brusaws have produced no estimates of how much the solar panels would cost, so the financial realities of their vision remain an unknown.WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
Oh, they know how much it costs, I'm certain of that. That they didn't release even a grossly unrealistically low price tells me that they know it's going to cost several orders of magnitude more than even the most sophisticated composite road material out there. Unless and until they have a comprehensive series of tests that at least partially approximate real-world usage, playing this "ask us how much it costs later" game isn't going to fly.
Lastly, I'm curious about this:
There are skeptics, who wonder about the durability of the panels, which are covered by knobby, tempered glass, and how they would perform in severe weather or when covered with dirt."Knobby, tempered glass"??? That doesn't sound like anything I want to be driving on. What's the coefficient of friction of this glass when it gets wet? How does it withstand freeze/thaw cycles? Glass doesn't hold heat in, which means that areas that get a lot of sun (i.e., the target areas) this new roadway is going to reflect heat like a sumbitch. No traction, radiating heat, and unknown wear and tear. Yeah. Sounds like a winner.
But he got the idea after seeing "An Inconvenient Truth" so you know there's no agenda here, right?
That is all.
Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)