UPDATE: the campaign has been extended to June 20. See the press release below.

The concept of using roads as solar cells seems like a great idea until you start considering all of the damage that streets regularly have to handle. From freezing water to overloaded vehicles, the nation's highways take a lot of punishment. However, that isn't stopping Solar Roadways from refining its concept for a sun-powered surface that you can drive on. ‚ÄčIt's latest big step is raising over $1.5 million in a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo that ends on May 31. We think the energetic solar freakin' roadway video (available below) had more than a little to do with attracting attention to the project.

Solar Roadways concept uses a textured glass surface embedded with solar cells to generate electricity, melt snow and even show safety warnings through integrated LEDs. They claim it can withstand 250,000-pounds of weight. The fully solar road is still a plan for the future, though. The company hopes to start small with parking lots, driveways and sidewalks. The business has already received grants of $100,000 and $750,000 from the Department of Transportation to prove the concept.

The company's nascent success isn't without its detractors. According to The Verge, some experts believe that replacing the road network with solar panels isn't economically feasible, and the company's promises are too vague. The country can barely keep the current infrastructure funded, let alone replace it with an unproven solution. Also, Solar Roadways lost out on funding from major tech investors like GE and Google and GigaOM's Katie Fehrenbacher says that we should be focusing on putting solar on rooftops before roads, anyway. Time will tell.
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Record Breaking Indiegogo Campaign Solar Roadways is Extended

Project to Turn Roadways into Clean Energy Power Source Attracts Record Number of Funders

Indiegogo's most popular campaign ever Solar Roadways https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways is now extended through June 20 after attracting a record number of funders with more than 38,000 contributions from all 50 states and 42 countries around the world.

Solar Roadways is the brainchild of Sandpoint, Idaho couple Julie and Scott Brusaw who have raised more than $1.8 million dollars on Indiegogo after getting started with a small federal grant. The initiative has the potential to change the way we utilize the nation's millions of miles of roadways and other surfaces- by turning them into power sources.

The Solar Roadways team says that in addition to creating a new, clean energy source Solar Roadways will also:

• improve road safety by providing LED lighting that replaces paint and can be changed at the touch of a button
• prevent accidents by providing advance illuminated warning of animals or debris on the road
• create an environmentally friendly way to melt snow without salt and sand

Indiegogo launched in 2008 as the world's first crowdfunding platform and is dedicated to allowing anyone, anywhere to fundwhat matters to them. As the world's funding engine, Indiegogo democratizes access to capital and helps innovators around the world improve society by turning their ideas into reality.


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  • 142 Comments
      moa
      • 6 Months Ago
      the problem with solar energy is not the lack of space to put panels (40-50 mile square of land in one of "desert states" would be enough to power all of the usa) is the initial cost. and this projects offers solution to the "non-problem" of space and raises the cost.
        GoodCheer
        • 6 Months Ago
        @moa
        You hit the nail on the head. There are a bunch of groups trying to show that it can be done, but nobody has to bother asking the question 'should it be done', because the answer is totally obvious. For the price of a solar roadway, you could build a more (energy) productive solar array and a more durable roadway.
      Jon
      • 6 Months Ago
      I'm all for innovative ideas but this is a solution begging for a problem. Why put solar panels in the road? There is plenty of space for solar panels. 50 square miles of dessert in the southwest covered in solar panels could power the country. There is plenty of space for solar panels on the roofs of buildings for distributed solar generation where panels won't be obstructed by traffic and the glass covering them can be optimized for light transmission, not carrying the weight of a semi. Even if we wanted to use this tech for the other benefits (LEDs, heating, ect) why not just do that and put the solar panels somewhere else? And we are to believe that a patchwork of printed circuit boards covered in glass will be more durable than asphalt which already struggles as it is? Solution begging a problem.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Jon
        50 square miles of solar panels for dessert?
          davebo357
          • 6 Months Ago
          Oh no thank you, I'm stuffed. Just the check please.
          Jon
          • 6 Months Ago
          Meh. Didn't have breakfast this morning. Guess the hunger got to me. :)
      jbm0866
      • 6 Months Ago
      I don't work in the solar industry, but I have a close friend who does.....that 1m wouldn't even cover the cost of a short driveway paved with solar panels. Do these people have a way to give investors their money back?
      Jim1961
      • 6 Months Ago
      Those people saving money (and cutting carbon emissions) with rooftop solar are going to feel like a bunch of fools when they hear about astronomically expensive solar highways of the distant (never) future.
      r_r
      • 6 Months Ago
      I'd like to cover our moon with solar panels and use microwave beam to transmit that energy to earth. Half of the energy produced by the moon will be used to create solar panels on Mars! Can I get some trillion dollars too? You'll get 50% discount on your electricity* if you donate 5 billion dollars or more!
      danfred311
      • 6 Months Ago
      I would add one thing more. It might work as a decorative product in some city centers though. So even if the initial purpose has no market it could still be a moderate size production, maybe.
      Steve
      • 6 Months Ago
      damn, this would be great if they can bring down the cost
      Chris
      • 6 Months Ago
      Aside from the cost of producing and maintaining all of these panels, I can't help but wonder how much noise they'd generate, and how they'd be in rainy conditions.
      SpikedLemon
      • 6 Months Ago
      The idea is interesting. I'm not convinced though. Likely a better idea as a walkway than a roadway - but I wonder what traction is like in the rain.
      Carzzz
      • 6 Months Ago
      at least they look e-brake shenanigan friendly
        Henry Z. Floyd
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Carzzz
        How? These roads have more traction than asphalt, therefore less tire spin is likely. E-brake friendly would mean a slipperier surface, don't you think?
          Joeviocoe
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Henry Z. Floyd
          more tractions can also mean noisier, rougher on suspension, much worse for tire wear, and less fuel economy. Asphalt and Concrete can be made to have better traction... but there is a balance that must be struck.
      Stephen
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hmm... Studded winter tires, crap... Uhhh, guys we have a problem with the new glass tile road you put in!
        MikeThinker
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Stephen
        Where are you allowed studded winter tires?
          Henry Z. Floyd
          • 6 Months Ago
          @MikeThinker
          ...Where are you NOT allowed studded winter tires?
          Rick
          • 6 Months Ago
          @MikeThinker
          They are allowed in Idaho and Montana for sure for a certain part of the year. I have them and wouldn't drive in the winter without them.
          clquake
          • 6 Months Ago
          @MikeThinker
          http://www.rma.org/tire-safety/seasonal-driving-tips/2013-studded-snow-tire-regulations-for-passenger-cars/
      JB
      • 6 Months Ago
      Cool video. My knee-jerk reaction is that for solar there is a lot of lower hanging fruit to pick structures, out of the shade, out of the muck and are not being pounded at 70 MPH. A solar road pot-hole is not a "shock-hole"
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