It seems like the great majority of crowdfunding campaigns are somewhat trivial in the whole scope of things. A smartwatch; a new video game; funding for a new album; production of a comic book. This is not to take anything away from projects funded through crowdfunding, a lot of these are awesome. That said, the crowdfunding platforms are so powerful that they can be used to enact massive, World changing projects. One such campaign is on Indiegogo right now.
Solar Roadways has the potential to drastically change the World as we know it. The project is the brainchild of Julie and Scott Brusaw. In a nutshell, the goal of Solar Roadways is to replace all of the World’s paved surfaces with their modular, hexagonal paving system of solar panels. This is not just some idea, Julie and Scott Brusaw have proven that not only does their system work, but it works really well.
Solar Roadways has received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration for research and development of a solar paving system. As a result of this funding, the Solar Roadways model has been proven. The Brusaw’s have built out a prototype parking lot utilizing the technology:
Our parking lot is roughly equivalent to a 3600-watt solar array, and that’s with only 69-percent of the surface covered with solar cells – it will be around 5200-watts when fully covered. The amount of power produced depends entirely upon the amount of sunshine available, so it varies by location, season etc.1
On top of generating energy, the Solar Roadways technology has a lot of added benefits. As the goal is to eventually replace roads with these panels, the team added in a heating element to protect against snow and ice; the panels incorporate LEDs to eleminate the need for road lines and signs; the team, “attached Cable Corridor to store and treat stormwater and provide a “home” for power and data cables;” the panels are strong enough to support 250,000 pounds of weight; the team is also exploring the use of mutual induction technology which would allow the roadways to charge electrical vehicles while they drive.2
As far as storing and transporting the energy generated by these panels, the team has designed an ingenious method:
We designed Our prototype to use “virtual storage”, meaning that any excess energy is placed back to the grid during daylight hours and then can be drawn back out of the grid at night. This is important as solar energy is only available during the day, but our heating elements need to have power at night in the wintertime in northern climates for snowy weather. However, we can add any current or future energy storage devices to our system. For instance, batteries and flywheels can be placed in the Cable Corridor for easy access, if customers wish to incorporate them. 3
As far as the overall impact, through meticulous calculations and projections – which I can not even begin to comprehend – the team projects that if/when there is a full implementation of Solar Roadways, it will “produce over three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States.”4 World altering indeed.
The Indiegogo campaign is looking to raise $1 million. As of writing, the campaign has raised a total of $201,178. For more info, check out the Solar Roadways Indiegogo Campaign, or head over to SolarRoadways.com