6 solar roads shaking up infrastructure around the world

April 16, 2018 by  
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Roads aren’t just for walking or driving anymore. Solar road or pathway projects around the world are showing that streets can both provide firm footing and generate clean energy . Inhabitat rounded up six projects in places as diverse as China and rural Georgia to highlight potentially game-changing technologies in the solar road sphere. Solar Roadways use modular solar panels covered in tempered glass Scott and Julie Brusaw launched Solar Roadways a few years back with the goal of transforming regular asphalt roads into energy -generating thruways. The Brusaws aimed to use  modular solar panels topped with tempered glass as replacement for standard pavement and, in 2016, celebrated the first public installation  of these panels in their hometown of Sandpoint, Idaho. While they’d also announced plans to bring their solar roads to a section of Route 66 in Missouri, it appears the project fell through. Late last year,  St. Louis Public Radio said the project wouldn’t be moving forward; according to Scott Brusaw, it “dissolved due to a variety of complex red tape factors.” But Solar Roadways is still at work to bring their product to roads and recently shared on Facebook  that they’ve met with interested connections from South Korea, Australia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Austria. Related: This bike lane in Korea is topped with 20 miles of solar panels France opens one-kilometer solar road with 2,880 solar panels In late 2016, France opened what was then the first solar road in the world: a one-kilometer stretch in Tourouvre-au-Perche, built with technology from Colas’ Wattway . The 2,880-panel road was said to generate enough energy to power street lights in the 3,400-person village. Rural Georgia gets a test stretch of Wattway’s solar roads Wattway’s solar roads hit the United States a few months after the road in France. The Ray C. Anderson Foundation installed 538 square feet of the solar road near the Alabama and Georgia border — the first Wattway pilot in America. The solar road was part of the foundation’s project The Ray , an 18-mile living laboratory testing renewable technologies that also includes  bioswales and a solar-powered electric car charging station . Solar panel expressway pops up in China Just a few months ago, a one-kilometer solar road, developed by Qilu Transportation Development Group , opened in Jinan, China . Three layers make up the road: insulation on the bottom, solar panels in the middle, and transparent concrete on top. The solar panels cover around 63,238 square feet in two lanes and one emergency lane, and can generate one million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy every year. In a strange twist , thieves actually took a small portion of the road days after it debuted; since the panels wouldn’t have been worth a lot of money, people speculated they might have wanted to learn the workings of the technology. The road was later repaired. Solar-powered bike path has generated more power than anticipated Solar panels aren’t just for highways. Bike lanes can make great use of them too, if one in Krommenie, Netherlands is any indication. After one year, the SolaRoad solar-paneled bike path  generated 70 kilowatt-hours per square meter, enough power for around three houses – and even more than the designers expected. Sten de Wit of TNO , the research organization behind SolaRoad, said most people don’t even notice the difference between the solar bike path and a regular one. Solar sidewalk helps charge electric cars Sidewalks can benefit from solar panels, too. Platio recently installed a 50-square foot solar sidewalk, created with recycled plastic , that pulls double duty: people can walk across it as it generates clean energy used to charge electric vehicles . Platio installed the 720-watt peak capacity system at a Prologis facility in Budapest — and the process only took one day. When the solar sidewalk isn’t busy charging EVs, energy it generates helps power a nearby office building. Images via Solar Roadways Facebook , Vianney Lecointre on Twitter , The Ray , Qilu Transportation Development Group , SolaRoad Netherlands, and courtesy of Platio

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6 solar roads shaking up infrastructure around the world

Solar Roadways are coming to historic Route 66

June 29, 2016 by  
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Solar roadways are finally gaining traction in the United States. Scott and Julie Brusaw have been developing their energy-generating roads for the last several years, hoping to replace asphalt with solar panels that can withstand the weight of cars. Now they are bringing their dream to a section of the historic Route 66 highway in Missouri . Solar Roadways will be installed on Route 66 as part of Missouri’s Road to Tomorrow initiative, which focuses on improvements like smart highways and incorporating renewable energy. Tom Blair, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) engineer who heads Road to Tomorrow said , “It gets Missouri and MoDOT prepared for 21st century innovations. We expect them to be in place, I’m hoping, by the end of this year, maybe before snow flies. If [Solar Roadway’s] version of the future is realistic, if we can make that happen, then roadways can begin paying for themselves.” Related: Glow-in-the-dark cement could illuminate dark highways without electricity Solar Roadways , based in Idaho, designs energy-generating roads made of modular solar panels covered in tempered glass . Inside the modules are microprocessors that communicate with other panels, a control center, and even with cars driving on the road. LED lights in the panels provide street lines and signs, and there are even heating elements so snow and ice don’t build up on the solar panels. Plus, because the units are modular, if one breaks, it’s easier to replace it stopping so much traffic. Solar Roadways was first funded through a research contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation. An Indiegogo campaign garnered an additional $2 million. The idea is so popular, President Obama mentioned the project during his 2015 State of the Union address . It looks like there’s a bright future for the startup. Soon these smart solar panels could line more than just roads. Solar Roadways envisions their modules on surfaces from playgrounds to basketball courts and airport runways. Via CleanTechnica Images via Solar Roadways on Facebook and Pixabay

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Solar Roadways are coming to historic Route 66

One place on Earth where climate change is actually beneficial

June 29, 2016 by  
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Canada’s boreal forests may not suffer as much as other areas on Earth from climate change . Armed with climate data from as far back as 1960, scientists from Quebec and the United States scrutinized datasets of tree rings from black spruce trees to gather a sense of how the trees respond to varying weather conditions. Their discovery is incredibly hopeful: some of these forests might actually thrive in the warmer temperatures brought on by climate change. The scientists looked at tree ring datasets from 26,000 black spruce trees, matching rings with growth rates to see how the trees reacted to different weather. Around the 49th parallel, they found something intriguing. South of the parallel, when trees encounter hot, dry weather, they tend to show stress. North of the parallel, the reaction changes: the trees respond much better to warmer weather. These trees could thrive in the longer growing season climate change could afford them. Related: China’s eco-civilization plan calls for 23% forest cover by 2020 Lead author of the study Loïc D’Orangeville told Gizmodo, “Generally, the scientific community agrees that because boreal forests are constrained by low temperatures, they should see some benefits from global warming .” Where the forests grow in Quebec, winters are typically long and harsh. If winter shortens due to climate change, the trees might be able to grow for longer periods of time. Of course, there’s still the caveat of water : in warmer temperatures, trees need greater amounts to grow. At this point, however, the scientists think the warmer weather could outweigh the potential that there could be less water available. Harvard senior ecologist and co-author Neil Pederson said, “It’s hope. It’s a bright spot…this dataset is showing us an area that might be dynamically okay. The trees are telling us that it might not be so bad.” Via Gizmodo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay

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One place on Earth where climate change is actually beneficial

Buckminster Fuller-Inspired Gold Dome To Be Preserved As Historic Site in Oklahoma

August 19, 2013 by  
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A 1958 geodesic dome based on Buckminster Fuller ’s design has been purchased by an Oklahoma environmental engineering firm . The historic Gold Dome building had been in danger — its previous owner decided to put the building on the market after finding it would take $2.5 million to repair problems with the building, particularly with its unique roof. Read the rest of Buckminster Fuller-Inspired Gold Dome To Be Preserved As Historic Site in Oklahoma Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Buckminster Fuller , geodesic dome , Gold Dome , historic architecture , historic building , historic site , modern architecture , oklahoma , route 66 , the public bank building        

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Buckminster Fuller-Inspired Gold Dome To Be Preserved As Historic Site in Oklahoma

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