Scott Brusaw, an Electrical engineer, has unveiled a system that could be very useful to generate electricity - using roads. In fact, roads are long strips of land that are constantly exposed to the elements and make up a significant piece of land. Because of the high visual impact of solar farms, he thinks that converting the roads to a strip-like solar farm can be a good solution.
He created a 3-layer system to replace tarmac: the upper layer would be translucent and able to let the sunlight pass by, yet weatherproof. The middle layer would contain the electronics, including LEDs which would allow for easy lane reconfiguration and the solar cells that would capture electricity. This electricity could be stored and used to heat the road which would benefit winter traffic. The bottom layer would protect from the soil humidity while being also able to host communication cables and other systems.
Brusaw thinks that if the US Interstate Highway system was replaced with his system, with an solar cell efficiency of 10 percent, it could power the whole country. Solar Roadways estimate that in five years they will have a working prototype stretched from Sandpoint to Coeur d'Alene.
Other similar projects have been developed in Europe. In the Netherlands, investigators are working on a system that uses thermo-solar energy to de-ice roads, but has also grown into an "intelligent" road that can give instructions to drivers. UK's M1 highway (ok, motorway) has a similar system in a gas station in Toddington. France has been sponsoring projects that include solar panels on roads.
[Source: Solar Roadways via Econoticias]