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Are solar streets the solution to range anxiety?

Artist's rendering of Solar Roadways, installed in Sandpoint, Idaho
Artist's rendering of Solar Roadways, installed in Sandpoint, Idaho
Solar Roadway Inc.

Efficiency – that is what it’s all about.

Electric vehicles are the way to go – most pundits agree on that. The area where they differ is how the electric energy, which turns the wheels, is getting to the motor(s).

Today, we already have several options: hybrid-electric, in a variety of combinations of engine and motor; battery-electric vehicles (BEV) with a limited range, and range-extended vehicles, where an engine–generator-combination supplies the electricity.

Efficiency became important during the last few decades, as the world learned how emissions and dwindling oil resources would affect life on our planet. Not only did vehicle manufacturers consider actual fuel consumption, they included production of vehicles and supply of components into the overall picture.

The phrase ‘Well to Wheel’ was coined, to include all systems and components that drive a vehicle down the road, literally.

Automotive industry went a step further: ‘End of Life’, the recycling of everything contained in a vehicle was included in the overall process; designing not only for the life of the car, but also for the ecological footprint after its useful existence.

Always striving for better ways of mobility, for improved alternative transportation, has brought us to the realization that the infernal consumption engine has to make way for the electric motor.

The EV is gaining ground. Just as early in the last century various modes of vehicle propulsion systems fought for acceptance and supremacy, so today different types of power-plants are trying to gain the upper hand.

The internal combustion engine still has a long way to go before improvements are becoming more difficult and expensive than the advantages they would produce.

At the same time, after a century of dormancy, the electric vehicle is re-emerging in many different kinds. Batteries are improving, but they still need to be re-charged regularly.

What if there is a better way?

The world is looking for more efficient ways to produce and deliver energy; renewable sources to generate and deliver electric current are of prime concern; Out with coal-fired stations, in with wind and solar farms.

Out with ‘plug-in’, in with ‘charge on the go’; — via fuel cell or other means.

Having to plug-in for hours on end to recharge a battery-electric vehicle is inefficient. Buses already get a short-time inductive recharge from a device installed at their regular waypoints and overnight inductive charge in their garage. However, this electricity still comes mostly from ‘grey’, not ‘green’ sources of power generation.

Alternative transportation needs alternative power sources for reliable sustainable mobility.

Inventive minds are working on a literally groundbreaking solution. Solar Roadways is a new company, laying the ground work (pun intended) in converting parking lots and freeways into free solar energy producing zones everywhere. Photovoltaic panels will generate electricity while simultaneously acting as the pavement.

What if it was possible to combine the solar generated electricity with inductive recharging on the go? What if we could have solar powered streets for a new generation of truly zero-emission electric vehicles with unlimited range? Solar Roadways Inc. is working to achieve that.

Quoting: “A road surface that melts snow and never needs plowing, never needs repaving or new painted lines but illuminates instead, pays for itself, and if implemented nationwide, could generate three-times more energy than the U.S. requires.”

Imagine the possibilities! (See also the article of May 21, 2014)