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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old May 26 2014, 05:22 PM   #1
Into Darkness
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Solar Roads

Keep seeing this idea doing the round online for the last couple of weeks. Solar roads.

What are peoples opinions on this?

Personally I feel like it's unfeasible. Resources would run dry surely. Doesn't solar require precious metals/minerals that aren't very abundant?
Not to mention these things would constantly need maintenance. etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU
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Old May 26 2014, 05:33 PM   #2
Ar-Pharazon
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Re: Solar Roads

No more maintenance than current roads and other replaced technologies.

The various industries currently making & maintaining roads would fight this tooth & nail. They don't even like the idea of mixing rubber in with asphalt to make roads last longer because (gods forbid) it would mean less work for them.

Yeah, the feasibility would depend on how many millions of these could be made at a time.

I like the thought they could be heated, thus eliminating the need for plowing & salt, which is the biggest problem for roads outside of actual traffic.
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Old May 26 2014, 06:05 PM   #3
gturner
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Re: Solar Roads

It's cute how the solar panels generate enough energy to melt the snow - the snow that's blocking the sunlight from hitting the solar panels.
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Old May 26 2014, 06:07 PM   #4
Into Darkness
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Re: Solar Roads

Thing is all these panels have LED's within them, can you imagine what would happen when billions of panels start needing pulling out cos LED's need replacing inside the panels. Sounds like a huge job.

Perhaps motorways made from these panels is feasible but all roads and sidewalks and driveways and parking lots seems excessive.

Also what about dirt? I'm pretty sure a layer of dirt would eventually build up, how we gonna clean all these panels every day? what about vehicles with dirty wheels.
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Old May 26 2014, 07:22 PM   #5
Owain Taggart
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Re: Solar Roads

Interesting idea, but would only really fly in warmer climates where snow wouldn't destroy roads. We have enough trouble keeping up with having to fix roads as it is and this would only add to the burden.
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Old May 26 2014, 07:52 PM   #6
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Re: Solar Roads

It might be feasible at some point in the future, but I don't see how it could be cost effective now.

The best idea I've heard so far for alternative energy production is a combination of solar, wind, and natural gas.
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Old May 26 2014, 09:05 PM   #7
Ar-Pharazon
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Re: Solar Roads

Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Interesting idea, but would only really fly in warmer climates where snow wouldn't destroy roads. We have enough trouble keeping up with having to fix roads as it is and this would only add to the burden.
It's really the salt and plowing that destroy the roads, but the ice getting into the asphalt and expanding/contracting does a pretty good job too.

But if these things are heated and there's the ability to channel water away, maybe not a problem unless it's too cold for the heating to do it's job.
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Old May 27 2014, 12:36 AM   #8
gturner
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Re: Solar Roads

The snow mostly comes at night, when the sun isn't shining and the road is cold. The next day the road is covered in snow and ice and the cells won't generate much energy.
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Old May 27 2014, 01:34 AM   #9
Ar-Pharazon
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Re: Solar Roads

If there's enough of them, could they store enough power to heat at night?

If they're going to have LED road markers, they would have to have some power storage capability.
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Old May 27 2014, 02:08 AM   #10
urbandefault
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Re: Solar Roads

We already have LED markers here in school zones. LEDs don't take much power and last a long time. The problem is that they don't generate heat like an Edison style bulb. We've seen the problems with LED traffic lights that don't melt ice and snow like conventional lights.

I'm thinking a big multi-vehicle collision could take out several sections of solar road panels, possibly disrupting the circuit. Multiply this by the number of accidents on a daily basis. Repairs could throw a huge monkey wrench into the power grid.

It just doesn't seem like a workable idea to me at this point.
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Old May 27 2014, 08:06 AM   #11
Owain Taggart
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Re: Solar Roads

Ar-Pharazon wrote: View Post
Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Interesting idea, but would only really fly in warmer climates where snow wouldn't destroy roads. We have enough trouble keeping up with having to fix roads as it is and this would only add to the burden.
It's really the salt and plowing that destroy the roads, but the ice getting into the asphalt and expanding/contracting does a pretty good job too.

But if these things are heated and there's the ability to channel water away, maybe not a problem unless it's too cold for the heating to do it's job.
True enough. I guess I should have specified snow and ice as well as plowing and salt.

Still though, there's the aspect that we can't really control, like say, pipes bursting. This winter, we had a pipe burst twice within a 2 week period. The heating might help the surface, but temperatures below ground would still be cold enough to cause pipes to freeze. I just feel that it would be a logistical nightmare for cities to deal with. Our city has recently removed stone interlays from some of our downtown streets for maintenance cost reasons.
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Old June 1 2014, 09:12 PM   #12
publiusr
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Re: Solar Roads

Volcanic ash makes for great fill, or so I've heard.
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Old June 3 2014, 01:41 PM   #13
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Re: Solar Roads

urbandefault wrote: View Post
It might be feasible at some point in the future, but I don't see how it could be cost effective now.

The best idea I've heard so far for alternative energy production is a combination of solar, wind, and natural gas.
A relative of mine (who happens to be an engineer) saw this on Facebook and immediately wondered the same question. Based on the numbers given, he calculated it would cost $56 trillion to do all the roads in the US. Nope, not feasible.
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Old June 3 2014, 02:57 PM   #14
Ar-Pharazon
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Re: Solar Roads

^ I wonder how much we'll spend on fixing those same roads by conventional means.
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Old June 3 2014, 04:11 PM   #15
MacLeod
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Re: Solar Roads

And of course unlike asphalt, they can pay back some of the money because of the electricity they generate. But like any technology the devil is in the detail, not all roads would be suitable.
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