Tarmac 2.0 has just taken its first baby-step. The solar road technology that promises to produce clean electricity, replace power transmission and information infrastructure, requires no plowing and lights up to provide navigational and safety information is about to go from the drawing board to prototype production. The Department of Transport has seen fit to award the project $100,000 to construct the first 12' by 12' panel.

The panels that make up the road consists of three layers. The base contains power and data lines and is overlaid by the electronics strata that contains solar cells, LEDs and supercapacitors which would produce and store electricity while the LEDs would "paint" the surface with light. This layer also holds the microprocessors and communications device that would make highways "intelligent". The top layer is made of glass that should supply the same traction as asphalt, is strong enough to handle whatever traffic can dish out and protect the electronic goodies below. Scott Brusaw, the guy who came up with the Solar Roadways idea, estimates that if every street, driveway and parking lot was replaced with his invention, it would supply three times as much electricity as was used in the U.S. in 2003. Hit the jump for a video of Scott explaining his idea as well as a brief press release.

[Source: Solar Roadways]




PRESS RELEASE:

US DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AWARDS $100,000

RESEARCH CONTRACT TO SOLAR ROADWAYS

Funds intelligent roads and parking lots

SOLAR ROADWAYS, SAGLE, IDAHO (August 25, 2009)- Solar Roadways today announced that it has been awarded a DOT contract that will enable them to prototype the first ever Solar Road Panel.

The Solar Roadways will collect solar energy to power businesses and homes via structurally-engineered solar panels that are driven upon, to be placed in parking lots and roadways in lieu of petroleum-based asphalt surfaces.

The Solar Road Panels will contain embedded LEDs which "paint" the road lines from beneath to provide safer nighttime driving, as well as to give up to the minute instructions (via the road) to drivers (i.e. "detour ahead"). The road will be able to sense wildlife on the road and can warn drivers to "slow down". There will also be embedded heating elements in the surface to prevent snow and ice buildup, providing for safer winter driving. This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels.

Replacing asphalt roads and parking lots with Solar Roadway panels will be a major step toward halting climate change. Fully electric vehicles will be able to recharge along the roadway and in parking lots, finally making electric cars practical for long trips.

It is estimated that is will take roughly five billion (a stimulus package in itself) 12' by 12' Solar Road Panels to cover the asphalt surfaces in the U.S. alone, allowing us to produce three times more power than we've ever used as a nation - almost enough to power the entire world.