Renewable energy went viral recently with a couple of Americans crowdsourcing funds for a plan to turn roads into energy sources. Their plan? To replace asphalt roads with strengthened LEDs and solar panels that could feed the electricity needs of the country.
In other words, they want to turn our millions of miles of road into a power source.
Scott and Julie Brusaw believe these roads could be lit at night, perhaps power the grid and used to illuminate signs. Their Indiegogo campaign has attracted 46,000 funders and raised over $2 million with an additional 16 million hits on YouTube. Some have called it a scam or, at best, an unworkable idea, but the couple have been toiling over it for years now and the idea is beginning to gain traction.
Detractors claim that turning our roads into solar panels will be disastrous, costly and, frankly, ridiculous. Could thousands of cars passing over solar panel, even if they are made of specially reinforced glass, really leave them unbroken or undamaged? What would be the cost of transforming our roads in this way? How would it be maintained and how many millions would that cost? And would it pay for itself as a cheap source of electricity for the surrounding neighbourhood?
The claim is that they can also be used on walkways and will cut greenhouse gases by 75% though how anyone reached that figure is not clear. The inference though is that, if they can be used on roads, they can be used anywhere to change the way we generate our power.
It’s an interesting idea and it has caught the attention of many people around the world but the more important question may be this: Are we being bold enough when we think of new and greener solutions for our energy needs?
Isn’t the kind of thinking out of the box that Scott and Julie have done the sort of solution we should be looking for?
The truth is that many researchers and inventers are already doing it.
Scientists are looking at ways to use wasted body heat to create electricity. The US have invested $44 million in developing the process of making fuel from algae and a Canadian scientist is working on his Atmospheric Vortex Engine which he hopes will harness the power of manufactured tornadoes.
Subways in Japan have begun using the current producing properties of crystals to power ticket machines and lights and Nokia are working on technology to charge phones from ambient radio waves.
While a number of renewable energy technologies look to replace our reliance on oil, other researchers are looking to develop new ways of creating it including from bugs that consume waste and excrete oil.