solar powered roadways by scott brusaw
solar powered roadways by scott brusaw
aug 07, 2012

solar powered roadways by scott brusaw

solar powered roadways by scott brusaw



american electrical engineer scott brusaw has developed a system of solar powered roads as an initiative to change the face of national highways. his project ‘solar roadways’ aims to re-purpose existing concrete and asphalt surfaces that are exposed to the sun with solar road panels. he is currently introducing the technology in driveways, bike paths, patios, sidewalks, parking lots, playgrounds, before integrating them onto public roads. aside from providing sustainable transportation solutions, the concept will provide socio-economic advantages in all aspects of daily life. the roads are capable of directly inputting energy into the power-grid through photovoltaics, which if realized, could power an entire country from the generated electricity. since our current power grid is based on centralized power stations, and distribution is handled through transmission lines and relay stations, the ‘solar roadways’ would replace coal- and nuclear-powered electricity generation plants by transforming the road into a self-contained energy source.

solar powered roadways by scott brusaw
LED demonstration

in a future filled with electric vehicles and this new technology, cars will be able to virtually recharge anywhere and small businesses would profit and benefit by going off the grid — eliminating a monthly electricity bill, and attracting customers through the installation of EV charging stations. the intelligent road system will provide a clean form of renewable energy, while implementing safer driving conditions along with power and data delivery. 



‘solar roadways’ video

solar powered roadways by scott brusaw
illuminated road ways informing traffic of any danger
‘solar roadways’ have the capability to protect wildlife and motorists by detecting if something is on the surface of the panel via integrated load cells. if an animal crosses the road, oncoming drivers will be warned through embedded LEDs, informing the  driver to slow down. unlike the roads we drive on by night today, the ‘solar roadways’ provide illuminated lights that can be controlled by the highway patrol in the event of road closures and accidents for re-routing traffic.

solar powered roadways by scott brusaw

top: winter without solar roads, bottom; winter with solar roads



challenges associated with extreme winter climates will also be resolved, where an implementation of embedded heating within the design will eliminate ice and snow buildup. cities will no longer have the expense of snow removal and the problems caused by the chemicals used to maintain clear roads. 
  • wow!
    Great concept, I hope it goes into production soon!

    samah says:
  • Will need to provide adequate friction for stopping, steering.
    Will need to withstand extreme pressure from trucks, frequently exceeding maximum load limits.
    Dynamics of heavy loads on concrete segments (L.A. freeway = tilted pads) are an issue.
    Dynamic pressure concerns (squeezing of the PV surface in the direction of travel)
    brightness of self-illuminated road surface (background) must be more or less than vertical objects/hazards for VISIBILITY needs study.

    dougpaulin LC CLEP says:
  • like this idea 😀

    MATHI says:
  • I don’t mean to be the paranoid one to comment. This to me is a bit of a red flag.

    This platform would seem very easy to hack in a way that people or ‘Big Brother’ could literally track your every move.

    Let’s push this to an extreme; Cheap RFID’s could be embedded in every product you purchase. Your car, your bike, your shoes, even your dog (we chip those already) would be able to be traced.

    I definitely would not install these on my back porch either. Somebody had fun illustrating.

    culpepd says:
  • in 1985 steve jobs didnt know how to make a portable touch screen telephone, but he figured it out…

    it takes time for a concept to evolve. duh


    maks says:
  • oh and @culpepd, what makes you think that you arent already being followed… hint hint.. your telephone is a walking GPS

    maks says:
  • What is the impact on tire adhesion?

    driveways, bike paths, patios, sidewalks, parking lots, & playgrounds are a very different environment than a 70mph highway – tire adhesion becomes critical with regard to safety

    dbkii says:
  • My only criticism of this concept isn’t the cost as we should explore every aspect of renewable energy but mostly the damage it would receive thus compromising its efficiency. Roads endure the likes of gouges (sometimes miles long) from unhitched trailers, rims from blown tires, accidents, and even the weather is probably the greatest source of road damage.

    I think a better solution would be to initially do without the interface aspect and instead use the road as a source of thermoelectric energy via some embedded peltier modules.

    jerry d. elmore says:
  • agreed, theres always room for improvement though!

    safety will always be an issue regardless the circumstance, but this is something i can see happening in the next 15-20 years.

    good post!

    james kendall says:
  • and who pays for this?!

    uncle sam says:
  • human imagination to reality, continues to surprise me

    a hendry says:
  • think studded tires and chains on trucks during the winter
    think the abrasiveness of sand and salt used for making roads safe
    think how many times roads have to be repaved
    I think this is an idea not well thought out

    Paedra says:
  • The concept is right though i cant see anyone spending trillions to pave a country. But, the house scene makes better sense and is cheap enough for the average homeowner to tackle starting today–driveway, walkways, not to mention roofs. Im seeing housing tracts being built with solar roofs and walls. Its not too hard to budget periodic panel purchases which over time allow for a great built-up system–for a house, commercial building, hotel, airport, etc but not 10000s of miles of roads.

    charles says:
  • why are there no simple test with water? since rain is the most common weather…

    water and glass – i can only think of aquaplaning

    rainman says:
  • Brilliant concept ! In my state, the major barrier for changing roads or anything else is the road surfacing lobby, the largest in state government. It takes precedent over everything else.

    Traveler says:
  • nice concept … one thing that needs to be further worked on is that roads over time have alot of mud or tyre marks etc on them … in order for the solar panels to remain efficient the surface must be very clean…would these highways be very high maintainance in that respect?
    we could also work on a concept in which the weight and the pressure of the car of the road inturn produces energy… like speed breakers could use the pressure of the car to power street lights maybe…

    raza khan says:
  • @Paedra – The last illustration takes care of most of what you said are not well thought out. Chains would not be needed because they would use their power to heat up the roads and keep ice/snow off them.

    That takes care of the sand and salt as well.

    This isn’t about paving. Pavement wouldn’t go over these, they would just be the road. So repairs would probably come more from replacing a section with new panels.

    charris says:
  • I’m worried about how slippery these things would be when wet (or even when dry – looking at how smooth the surface appears to be). Also the glass panels seem very reflective – which would be terrible with sun glare during the day and car headlights at night.

    whatever says:
  • One major flaw. solar panels need sunlight which is hard to get when there is a car on it blocking the light. Solar panels are already expensive and no where near effective enough. There is also no way to store the required energy for it to work at night supposing it even generated enough excess you know with the cars blocking the sunlight. What happens in winter? “challenges associated with extreme winter climates will also be resolved, where an implementation of embedded heating within the design will eliminate ice
    and snow buildup. ” bull what energy are you going to use. It takes a lot of energy to melt several thousand miles worth of snow and the road can’t generate that energy with snow blocking it.

    @maks Steve Jobs didn’t try to make a touch screen telephone in 1985 it wasn’t created until well after the technology was developed and refined. Scientific advance isn’t some magic machine where you say I want magic super solar panel and keep inserting money and time till they magically pop up. Yes technology progress and many things have happened that we never predicted but you can’t just make a concept and say “oh I bet we will have this all figured out by the future”. Look back at all the things we thought we would happen by now and never came about. A good design is one built around technology we have not technology you hope someone else will create for you.

    Mlah says:
  • This seems a little unnecessary complex. However, I completely agree that roads have not kept up with the advancement of their counter-part, i.e. automobiles*. I would like to know more about section 0:46 from the video (Solar Roadways: The Prototype), where there is a claim that the road can collect and “stores” power. I thought the main issue with solar panels is the lack efficiency and inability to effectively store the gained power. I could be wrong, but I thought energy gained had to be either immediately used or harness in a battery or turbine at a potential reduction of initial capture of energy (<15% that was original captured once all 25,000 miles of US road surfaces are covered).

    *I think this timely with the current US politics, where our President recently claimed we “didn’t build that”. When he spoke regarding roadways and other government ventures. Just for minute think about the advancements in automobiles over the last 50 years compared to the advancements in roads. Then, think about who manages roads (Department of Transportation) and who builds automobiles (Individual companies). At section 1:50 in the video there is a claim that the DOT put out a solicitation for a “road-way that will generate power and pay for itself”. I think USDOT should take a step back and refocus on their objects in their mission statement to us: Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

    For a considerably less amount of costs and less development of technology that doesn’t yet exist they could be serving points 1 (fast) and 2 (safe) a heck of a lot better. If there is a renewable energy source that can be leverage from the road-ways, it should be the Department of Energy managing the project and not USDOT.

    Simplicity is elegance in new technology development says:
  • That is actually exactly the case. We currently don’t have ways to store energy on the scale that a city requires. This is one of the main reasons renewable energy like wind and solar has such a hard time being adopted. The other problem is that it is easy to say that the solar panel will just store energy for night use it still needs to generate that energy in the first place. As it currently stands all of the energy produced during the day would probably all be used leaving no excess energy to be stored away. Remember if you want the solar panel to provide energy at night it needs to be generating almost twice the amount of energy you use during the day.

    Mlah says:
  • Now engineer in mag-lev capabilities and you just may have something……….

    ManWithThePlan says:
  • This would work well with wireless on-road charging of electric vehicles so that EVs driving on the surface could charge as they go. So, they would need smaller batteries, etc. This is already being tested in South Korea (

    BC says:

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