Roadways could develop into major energy sources under a government-funded plan to build roads out of solar panels.
Asphalt roads and car parks would be torn apart and restored with glass solar cell panels capable of producing enough power to support local population, under the scheme.
The US Department of Transportation has bestowed a grant of $100,000 on a US firm which is currently working on a prototype panel which can be embedded into existing roads.
The panels would also be equipped with a mosaic of small lights, which could be illuminated to provide road markings and warning messages to drivers. They could also keep the road clear by melting snow and ice by embedding them with heaters.
With each 12 ft by 12 ft panel capable of producing 7.6 kilowatt hours of power daily, the company Solar Roadways calculates that resurfacing the entire US interstate highway network would meet the country’s energy needs three times over.
But while the cost of this would be exorbitant – it would require billions of panels, each priced at $6,900 – the firm believes that projects at smaller scale would make financial and environmental sense.
It claims, a four-lane, one-mile stretch of road set with the panels could generate enough power for 500 homes.
Solar Roadways plans to utilize its idea to allow the energy produced to be channeled into the national grid, as well as sold to drivers of electric cars on the roadside.
“This feature packed system will become an intelligent highway that will double as a secure, intelligent, decentralized, self-healing power grid which will enable a gradual weaning from fossil fuels,” the company said in a statement.