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

First Wattway solar road pilot in US pops up in rural Georgia

February 7, 2017 by  
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The first Wattway solar road pilot in America has popped up in rural west Georgia . The Ray C. Anderson Foundation , named for sustainable manufacturing pioneer Ray Anderson, is testing renewable technologies along an 18-mile stretch of road, and recently installed 538 square feet of Colas ‘ Wattway solar road system near the border between Georgia and Alabama. Part of Georgia’s Interstate 85 was named for Anderson, but as over five million tons of carbon dioxide are emitted yearly on that road portion alone, Anderson’s family felt placing his name there didn’t honor his legacy, and began to look into renewable technologies to clear the air – so to speak. Thus began The Ray , an 18-mile living laboratory for clean technologies, including not only the solar roads, but also a solar-powered electric vehicle charging station , and WheelRight , a system people can drive over to test their tire pressure, which could lead to improved fuel inefficiency. Related: France officially opens the world’s first solar panel road The first Wattway solar panel pilot is part of The Ray near a Georgia Visitor Information Center in West Point, Georgia. According to Wattway by Colas, the average expected output for the 538-square-meter pilot is anticipated to be 7,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which will help power the center. And these technologies are just the beginning. The foundation will also construct bioswales , or shallow drainage ditches filled with native Georgia plants to capture pollutants during rain. In a right-of-way space, they’ll build a one megawatt solar installation . They’re working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to bring such ideas to life along the 18-mile road stretch. Not only will several of their projects beautify the highway, but will generate clean energy and bring in money for investors. And other parts of the state have shown interest in building their own Wattway roads. The Ray executive director Allie Kelly dreams of a day when highways will “serve as a power grid for the future,” but she believes that day is coming sooner than we may think. She told Curbed, “We’re at a tipping point in transportation . In five to ten years, we won’t remember a time when we invested a dime in infrastructure spending for a road that only did one thing.” + The Ray + Wattway by Colas Via Curbed Images © Valerie Bennett and via The Ray

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Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed

February 7, 2017 by  
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Taxa Outdoors’ tow camper, the TigerMoth , is a compact home on wheels geared towards traveling adventurers. The lightweight camper sleeps two, has LED lights, and even better, comes with a built-in electrical system that generates energy while being towed. The camper’s battery can store energy for at least seven days, making off-grid living easier than ever before. Although certainly compact, the camper sleeps two comfortably and thanks to its lightweight size of just 900 pounds, can be towed virtually anywhere. The unique side latch allows for easy access and the large window allows for amazing views and air circulation. Built with adventurers in mind, the small structure has a roof rack system for bikes or kayaks, a tongue-mounted toolbox, and a roof cargo deck for additional gear storage. Related: Traveling family renovates old school bus as both solar-powered home and hostel The camper’s tow vehicle connection recharges the battery while on the road, providing enough electricity for at least seven days of off-grid living . Although solar panels have to be ordered, the camper roof is pre-wired for installation. As far as the basic amenities go, the tiny camper can sleep two people comfortably and comes with LED lighting installed in the kitchen area and sleeping area. There is 5.5 square feet of countertop for food preparation or work space. Along with various hooks and bungees, two large cubbies provide extra storage space. + Taca Outdoors

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Tiny TigerMoth Camper generates power while being towed

France to pave 1,000 kilometers of road with solar panels

February 1, 2016 by  
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France to pave 1,000 kilometers of road with solar panels

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