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solar roadways

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#1

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#2
Kind of old news but.. Yeah, right. Good luck paying for that plus, no way in hell they would last in a place where I live. Extreme cold to high heat...
 
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#3
Wow, you're slow to the punch. Solar roadways are idiotic. I'll do the bullet point format, but Thunderfoot, EEVblogs, and others have totally debunked this idiocy.

1) Cost. This covers many facets, but I'll start with materials. Glass+electronics+infrastructure makes this project a great way to bankrupt the US.
2) Durability of materials. Glass is fragile, and it needs to remain optically transmissive, to make those solar panels work. Even if you used artificial materials (several times more expensive than glass), you've still got the problem of fracturing. Imagine a semi truck kicking up a shard of material that could penetrate an engine block, and shooting it back at you at 70 mph. Can you say instant death?
3) Cost. Recycling materials is not an option. The glass needs to be optically transmissive, so a broken panel on a road must be replaced, and not recycled. The cost of taking a cell apart to get back anything would be insane.
4) Recycling. Almost all (upward of 99%) of asphault is recycled. Repaving a road takes days, but replacing thousands of solar panels would take weeks. Between the inability to recycle the surface, and having roads unusable for weeks, this is idiotic.
5) Cost. Asphault and rock (the aggregate our road is actually made out of) is several times cheaper than glass, without even considering the cost of electronics.
6) Characteristics. Asphault shows very good wear characteristics. These morons confuse tensile strength, wear properties, and material composition in order to somehow come to the conclusion that glass can support the same loads as asphault. One 1000 pound truck, never stopping at 60 mph and moving slowly across the panels means nothing. A coffee pot, eraser, and road debris can demonstrate (in a few minutes) that the glass is not suitable for use. Glass will mar, and make the surface functionally opaque to light, in a matter of hours.
7) Health concerns. The glass dust, mentioned in 6, has to go somewhere. Do you want to breathe that crap in?
8) Where are the road signs? Try to see a bright LED in direct sun light. Not shaded, not viewed from directly on, and not beneath several centimeters of glass. It's impossible in the day light. These morons cite traffic lights (viewed from directly on, and shaded), and other signs. We'll get to the billboard displays in a moment.
9) Cost. If you want to cite LED billboards, then you must understand that the viewing angle is pretty much direct on and the power consumption is huge. The power required to run one of these LEDs will take more than the solar panels generate. See the other people's work for that, but it's a non-starter.
10) Cost. Am I hammering it home yet? The power required to run the lights is more than they generate. This is during the day time, and doesn't account for the night. The power consumption at night would be insane, and that's more money down the tubes.
11) Cost. Heating snow into water is stupid. You're getting less sun light, and hoping that the energy can somehow melt snow? Basic calculations about the energy required to phase shift water (solid-liquid at 32F or 0C) show that even during summer they can't do this. More power costs, yay!
12) Idiocy. These people envision military usage for a solar panel.... I have no joke here. They want a solar road panel to go all Predator/Transformers, and monitor activity in the mountains of Afghanistan. THESE PEOPLE ARE MORONS!


So, the astute observer asks how they got the money to do this. They got a grant from the government, because politicians are idiots. They haven't gotten more money, because a bunch of prototypes with no test data after several years is what you might call a failure (by US DoT standards). They got a senator to speak on their behalf, because most elected representatives couldn't tell the difference between Planck's constant and the side length of a sodium crystal. They've gone to the public, preaching a message of green energy. It sells, because most people want to believe in green technology.

This isn't green technology. A system of overhead solar panels, atop roads, would be more efficient and cheaper. Anyone who trumpets these people as purveyors of a "good thing" needs to re-examine facts or get their head checked.


In short, "Solar Freaking Roadways" is a scam. Don't give them money, and don't allow them to be a poisonous influence on decent scientific efforts. I must re-iterate, THESE PEOPLE ARE MORONS!
 
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#4
LOL. I thought its a good idea but lot of design and thoughts need to flow in.

For now I would stick a solar panel on top of my car and park it under the Sun. After all we get sunshine 365 days in southern California!!!
 

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#5
This has been discussed at length on General Nonsense here. lilhasselhoffer attacked it from a cost/durability perspective. In GN, I attacked it mostly from the power perspective. In order for the concept of "solar roads" to work (or any form of massive solar electricity), the society (as a whole) must accept the reality that there will be no electricity at night. Most societies built on the foundation of stable electricity will not go for that so solar only serves one purpose and one purpose alone: to offset the need for natural gas and other fossil fuel turbines during peak hours. As such, homes and businesses putting solar panels on their roofs make sense because it offsets the cost of air conditioning. It may even make sense to implement "solar roads" in the parking lots of grocery stores, malls, and large stores to offset their costs in the same way but I'm still a skeptic over whether or not it would even break even against grid power. As for the grid, that's not just a no, but a "hell no."
 
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#6
This has been discussed at length on General Nonsense here. lilhasselhoffer attacked it from a cost/durability perspective. In GN, I attacked it mostly from the power perspective. In order for the concept of "solar roads" to work (or any form of massive solar electricity), the society (as a whole) must accept the reality that there will be no electricity at night. Most societies built on the foundation of stable electricity will not go for that so solar only serves one purpose and one purpose alone: to offset the need for natural gas and other fossil fuel turbines during peak hours. As such, homes and businesses putting solar panels on their roofs make sense because it offsets the cost of air conditioning. It may even make sense to implement "solar roads" in the parking lots of grocery stores, malls, and large stores to offset their costs in the same way but I'm still a skeptic over whether or not it would even break even against grid power. As for the grid, that's not just a no, but a "hell no."
To add, if there are more electric cars and solar outlets to charge the cars that will also help reduce fossil fuels.
 
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#7
Yeh a big discussion/debate took place over at GN. Although it is a cool idea, I don't think it is realistic.
 
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#8
... It may even make sense to implement "solar roads" in the parking lots of grocery stores, malls, and large stores to offset their costs in the same way...
I agree with most of what you said. My only real problem is the bit that I've snipped out. I focused on power, but the other big concern is actually getting light to the panels.

The panels necessarily do not track light, and thus are inherently much less efficient. Assuming that you take away that efficiency, the half or more of the day without sunlight, the variation in intensity of sunlight, and the fact that if you park a car over a solar cell it effectively takes away almost the entire ability to generate power, and this is even dumber.


Let's forego cost consideration. You place this is a parking lot, and it takes power to run half of the day. Assuming that 75% of the lot is covered by cars during the day, that means you get power for about 1/8 (1/4 of the lot for 1/2 of the day) of the day on the whole lot. 1/8 of the day, with solar cells at 20% efficiency, with tracking losses at 5%, with conversion losses at another 10%, and you'd never get enough power during the day to run these things.

On the other hand, paint lasts for year, is easily visible, is easy to replace, and maintenance would require less than a half hour of drying time (or a couple of days to completely resurface the area).

The idea is wrong-headed from the get-go. The senator supporting this initiative should never be allowed to make a decision on education. Everyone who funded the project should get their money back, less the $20 that it would take to prove this idea moronic (which amount to what, $0.01 per donor). The DoT should come out with a public statement as to why this didn't get funding after the initial grant for research.


On top of all of this, Google and the other people who handed awards to these morons should shame them publicly. Admitting that they had an innovative idea is not a shame, but spending enormous amounts of money on "research" without any results and trying to con more out of the general populous deserves a swift and catastrophic response. Preferably with a middle finger and public demonstrations of why these people don't deserve to call themselves researchers.
 
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#10
Let's forego cost consideration. You place this is a parking lot, and it takes power to run half of the day. Assuming that 75% of the lot is covered by cars during the day, that means you get power for about 1/8 (1/4 of the lot for 1/2 of the day) of the day on the whole lot. 1/8 of the day, with solar cells at 20% efficiency, with tracking losses at 5%, with conversion losses at another 10%, and you'd never get enough power during the day to run these things.
It's closer to 50% unless the isles are one-way and even then, most of the time, there aren't cars parked in every spot (look at Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, etc. on your average day). Even so, if it were me, I would only make the paths solar and not the parking spots themselves. I don't think the parking spots, especially close to the building, would pay for the cost of construction, nevermind maintenance.



Approximately 25% of their energy consumption is "green" and only 21% of that is from solar (majority shareholder being wind). Germany pays dearly for it too being second only to Denmark for highest $/kWh (35 cents in Germany compared to 12 cents in the USA and 19 cents in nearby France) excluding island-nations that rely heavily on diesel for electricity.
 
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#11
Right now at this juncture the most cost efficient way of creating electricity and looking after the environment is nuclear (at least imo). I think the design team for the solar roadways have bitten off more than they can chew. It is probably best to just focus on either renewable energy devices associated with roads OR the whole light/display system in the roads. I think it will just be WAY too expensive and time consuming to do all this at once.
 
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#12
To all the nay Sayers, all I read is how difficulty it is to do. If we stopped at things being to difficult to do we wouldn't have gone to the moon. All great things have great challenges.
 
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#13
To all the nay Sayers, all I read is how difficulty it is to do. If we stopped at things being to difficult to do we wouldn't have gone to the moon. All great things have great challenges.
yes very true but small steps need to be taken to succeed with this. Just like any other innovation. With the German V2 rocket/missile, rockets wouldn't be where they are today. With that being done, entering space was then a possibility. Each part of this needs to be completed individually and proven to be successful individually if the creators/designers have any chance of it succeeding.
 

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#14
To all the nay Sayers, all I read is how difficulty it is to do. If we stopped at things being to difficult to do we wouldn't have gone to the moon. All great things have great challenges.
The difficult, and best, thing to do is make fusion electricity a reality. The moment that happens, and the facilities that do it are made relatively cheap, all existing forms of electricity generation (including solar) become obsolete. Put $100 billion towards "solar roads" or $100 billion towards fusion? It's a no-brainer. Why? The reason why we don't have fission powered aircraft is because it's heavy due to radioactivity. Fusion has no such radioactivity which means, so long as the containment field is light, the fusion reactor can be light. Even so, you can not only harness the heat from a fusion reactor but also the light by way of PV cells. I'm getting off topic. My point of this tangent is that mastering fusion power could literally lead to flying cars. Flying cars means roads become moot except for the heaviest of cargo which is best served by rails anyway.

I seriously can't think of a bigger waste of money. It's looking backwards to millennia-old technology instead of forward to something we know works but have not really committed to making it a reality (I thank big oil).
 
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#15
The difficult, and best, thing to do is make fusion electricity a reality. The moment that happens, and the facilities that do it are made relatively cheap, all existing forms of electricity generation (including solar) become obsolete. Put $100 billion towards "solar roads" or $100 billion towards fusion? It's a no-brainer. Why? The reason why we don't have fission powered aircraft is because it's heavy due to radioactivity. Fusion has no such radioactivity which means, so long as the containment field is light, the fusion reactor can be light. Even so, you can not only harness the heat from a fusion reactor but also the light by way of PV cells. I'm getting off topic. My point of this tangent is that mastering fusion power could literally lead to flying cars. Flying cars means roads become moot except for the heaviest of cargo which is best served by rails anyway.

I seriously can't think of a bigger waste of money. It's looking backwards to millennia-old technology instead of forward to something we know works but have not really committed to making it a reality (I thank big oil).
I see no reason why funding for solar roads means no more fusion developments. If anything, having solar roads would mean more funding towards development for fusion technology in the future.
 

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#16
The entire reason why they pursued "solar roads" instead of "solar roofs" is because roads are publically funded, not privately. Their entire justification for the concept was taking the billions devoted to maintenance, upgrades, and new construction of roads and divert it to their concept. In their mind, that solved the cost issue because that money is going to be budgeted and spent anyway. Because these "solar roads" in reality would be much, much more costly than ye ol' road construction methods, I would argue the funds that would be spent above and beyond normal road work being diverted to fusion research (see Manhattan Project). In reality, neither will happen. We need to spend about $1 trillion over five years simply to get the infrastructure to a "passing grade" and that's not using any bonkers ideas either. The government would only seriously take fusion to Manhattan Project levels if there literally was no other means of generating power left. They have not been given a reason to really care to appropriate the necessary funds to make it come to fruition. In all honesty, the best opportunity was probably during the Reagan administration but, by that point, big oil had already defeated nuclear and the bulk of the investment was already made into it. May be another country will be able to finance and make it happen (e.g. China) but seriously, the bleeding edge of technology is what the USA used to be about. Apparently not anymore.

So no, I see absolutely no reason to pursue this concept. Not. One. Reason.
 
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#17
To all the nay Sayers, all I read is how difficulty it is to do. If we stopped at things being to difficult to do we wouldn't have gone to the moon. All great things have great challenges.
Then you aren't reading, or have lost the ability to critically access the viability of an idea.

We could theoretically make our cars frames and bodies our of gingerbread. It requires less resources to grow plants, harvest them, and process them into a form than metal or plastics. The reason we don't have gingerbread cars is that the material is fundamental unsuitable for its usage. Gingerbread is great for a short term drive in warm dry weather, but the first day it rains your car is no more.


Glass, likewise is not a suitable material for road construction. No matter how you structure the proposal, if the surface you are proposing to make a road out of is fundamentally unsuitable then the project cannot even be started. Assuming you don't know the difference between hardness, brittleness, tensile strength, and other mechanical properties, you should not be proposing a multi-million dollar project. If a decent scientist, a pencil with an eraser, a small amount of road debris, and a coffee pot can prove that your fundamental basis for the project is wrong then you don't need even the $750,000 that the US DoT has already given you.


People fail to realize that these morons, and they are demonstrably morons, have already had time to prove this concept. With nearly a million dollar budget they've managed to produce 0 corroborative data, a decent please for more money, and a prototype that demonstrates nothing. No stopping tests, no wear tests, no harsh weather tests, no efficiency/energy output data, no daylight driving scenarios, and most of all no figure for the cost of a single one of these solar panels.

"Solar Freakin' Roadways" is a giant scam. Between having an impossible choice of materials, an insane price tag, not living up to promises, being a drain of our power generation grid at night, and about a dozen other reasons this project was dead on arrival. People are wasting money giving it to these morons. This isn't about how hard something is. This is about being an asthmatic climbing Everest. There is no way it can be done as proposed, and instead of walking back to the drawing board these people are sticking their hands out for more money. This is indefensible stupidity.
 
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#18
We could theoretically make our cars frames and bodies our of gingerbread. It requires less resources to grow plants, harvest them, and process them into a form than metal or plastics. The reason we don't have gingerbread cars is that the material is fundamental unsuitable for its usage. Gingerbread is great for a short term drive in warm dry weather, but the first day it rains your car is no more.
I'm sorry :laugh: , I know you are trying get a point across but I just had a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I am honouring that in my signature :)
 
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#19
Then you aren't reading, or have lost the ability to critically access the viability of an idea...
Insults aside. You seem to be thinking the glass they are using is the stuff your window is made out of. Their glass is harder than asphalt and has been load tested. All I read are your reasoning's as for why this won't work but you have 0 corroborative data and they actually have some. So I'm going to side with the project and if it fails at least we tried. Now if they are lying on their site than that is an other can of worms. Now if you mean actually seeing charts of data with results to backup their claims, all in good time.

http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml

The entire reason why they pursued "solar roads" instead of "solar roofs" is because roads are publically funded, not privately. Their entire justification for the concept was taking the billions devoted to maintenance, upgrades, and new construction of roads and divert it to their concept. In their mind, that solved the cost issue because that money is going to be budgeted and spent anyway. Because these "solar roads" in reality would be much, much more costly than ye ol' road construction methods, I would argue the funds that would be spent above and beyond normal road work being diverted to fusion research (see Manhattan Project). In reality, neither will happen. We need to spend about $1 trillion over five years simply to get the infrastructure to a "passing grade" and that's not using any bonkers ideas either. The government would only seriously take fusion to Manhattan Project levels if there literally was no other means of generating power left. They have not been given a reason to really care to appropriate the necessary funds to make it come to fruition. In all honesty, the best opportunity was probably during the Reagan administration but, by that point, big oil had already defeated nuclear and the bulk of the investment was already made into it. May be another country will be able to finance and make it happen (e.g. China) but seriously, the bleeding edge of technology is what the USA used to be about. Apparently not anymore.

So no, I see absolutely no reason to pursue this concept. Not. One. Reason.
Well people would argue about a lot of things, but until its put to practice we won't really know. I'd rather see this project tried and failed. Fusion has had its chance for 57+ years now and I see no real progress toward a practical application to benefit man kind (yet). Obviously we need more time and funding but solar roadways would need less. Implement solar roadways, if its a success use the money saved to develop other technologies.
 
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#20
It seems to me that it would be too expensive to build solar panels strong enough for cars and trucks to drive on. It would obviously be much cheaper to put ordinary panels on land that is unused nearby but that's not the biggest problem I see. Solar panel farms don't make sense everywhere. Too many cloudy days.

I'd say put solar panel farms where you have a lot of sunny days. Put wind farms where you have a lot of windy days. Put geothermal where it makes sense. Nuclear power plants do well but no one wants a new one built near them. Cover the rest of the grid with coal power plants that are as clean burning as is practical to do. I don't know how far away fusion reactors are but in the meantime we have to generate electricity in a way that makes sense economically.


Edit: Something else I thought of. Wouldn't the panels crack when it gets cold enough for the ground to heave?
 
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#21
What's the amount we spent so far for exploring Mars?
 

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#22
Not 100% sure but I suspect it is somewhere between the hundreds of millions and a few billion. Curiosity Rover was expensive and there were a few probes that examined Mars before that.
 
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#23
But think of the children! They need for us to finance the green industry so the government can have another excuse to raise taxes......THINK OF THE CHILDREN YOU HEARTLESS BASTARDS AND YOU COMMON SENSE! OUR PLANET NEEDS US! LETS ROLL!

 
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#24
To all the nay Sayers, all I read is how difficulty it is to do. If we stopped at things being to difficult to do we wouldn't have gone to the moon. All great things have great challenges.
motion does not equal production.

Nuclear is our only current hope of stopping this spreading solar disease, when you consider the earth damage from the mining, purification, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, sales, installation and maintenance of solar cells they are a niche idea that works for niche areas. Much like high current batteries are worse for the earth with all the toxins and waste produced.

People think these items are "green" when in fact they move the pollution to a country with significantly less stringent environmental laws to make them, and make them cheaper, thus causing more pollution overall.

Mass public transit, with energy efficient vehicles. Make them electric, but stop trying to use hideous solar cells to power them when it doesn't work. Plant a tree instead, or something that produces food for you to eat that might save a trip to the store.

Insults aside. You seem to be thinking the glass they are using is the stuff your window is made out of. Their glass is harder than asphalt and has been load tested. All I read are your reasoning's as for why this won't work but you have 0 corroborative data and they actually have some. So I'm going to side with the project and if it fails at least we tried. Now if they are lying on their site than that is an other can of worms. Now if you mean actually seeing charts of data with results to backup their claims, all in good time.

http://www.solarroadways.com/faq.shtml



Well people would argue about a lot of things, but until its put to practice we won't really know. I'd rather see this project tried and failed. Fusion has had its chance for 57+ years now and I see no real progress toward a practical application to benefit man kind (yet). Obviously we need more time and funding but solar roadways would need less. Implement solar roadways, if its a success use the money saved to develop other technologies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_reasoning


Its only true because they say its true, and because they say its true it must be true cause they say its true.

See any pattern here? Much like the man stuck in the wash rinse repeat cycle in his own shower unless you are willing to consider alternate data you have already failed. the purpose of testing isn't to prove something works, but to see what breaks and fails, according to them, they have passed testing....but I haven't seen it, and no one else has, and videos of kids playing basket ball inside a shop isn't enough proof for me. Where is the blown out tire on a semitruck doing 80 fully loaded coming down a 8 degree hill in the fog test? Or the concrete truck brake lockup test? Or the traffic jam 104F day test where roads get heated by the sun and by catalytic converters?


Could we make it work? Yep, but as mentioned by others, it isn't feasable. We would be better off launching a huge space reflector to shine on the earth to light it in darkness and focusing the beam to melt snow.
 
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#25
it should be the goal we work towards even if it is out of our reach right now.

i mean come on they're SOLAR FREAKING ROADWAYS!!!!!!!