Opinion: Solar roadways

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Solar roadways. I don’t know if most people like or hate them, but they are definitely curious. Michael Naphan’s YouTube video about the pavement of the future debuted in May and has already reached over 17 million views.

Solar roadways are a new way to pave streets, sidewalks and any other type of road. According to the Indiegogo, a website that promotes crowd funding for different ideas, the solar panels can withstand vehicles up to 250,000 pounds.

I, for one, like the idea of solar roadways. Asphalt should be replaced with solar panels for many reasons, the main one being the abundance of clean energy it would generate. Solar panels are crafted to collect and store energy. If talking about eliminating the need for fossil fuels doesn’t excite you, consider some of the other ways solar paneled roadways would benefit, well, basically everyone.

LED lights are used in the solar panels and can be changed as needed. For example, let’s say panels were installed in a restaurant parking lot where, initially, only two handicapped parking spots were made. After observing the business and parking lot, perhaps the owner decides that more handicapped spots are needed. Instead of painting a new handicapped sign on the pavement, LED lights can be programmed to simply add another handicapped spot. This works both ways in that any unnecessary handicapped spots can be eliminated without the need for new pavement or paint.

This would allow for taxes to be spent elsewhere, rather than on the cost of repainting and repairing pavement as needed. Cracks and potholes would also be eliminated. Never again would you have to worry about the unevenness of roads that cause your car to rattle. Black ice, snow and other dangerous driving conditions would vanish due to heating elements that could be added to the solar panels in northern climates, according to SolarRoadways.com – a website detailing potential uses from the creators and founders of Solar Roadways. It would function much like a heated driveway does.

A couple years ago, the term global warming was projected all over the news; it warned people of melting ice caps, dying polar bears and the fact that our fossil fuels will soon be depleted. Solar panels could, after replacing most pavements, be a completely new source of energy. Forget windmills taking up thousands of acres of land and costing millions of dollars. Forget replacing roofs with expensive solar panel alternatives. As the panel pays for itself over time, the initial cost of this energy saving product would not be an economic issue, which would greatly benefit thousands in the near future.

Speaking of thousands of people, many of us worry about getting connected to future employers. If solar roadways were created, there could be a flood of jobs as well. We’re talking engineers to build the panels, electricians to wire them and construction to tear up old pavement and replace them with the solar panels. Thousands could say goodbye to the fear of the current unemployment issue.

Solar roadways could not only solve problems nationally, but globally as well. According to the Indiegogo, solar panels could be a necessity when natural disasters strike. Any lack of power hinders communication between volunteers and those in need. Third-world countries would also benefit from solar panels, where energy is not as easily accessible.

The list of benefits are endless, and the only potential negative aspect of the panels would be the initial cost. However, both the amount saved in energy and the potential revenue generated from the electricity would help recover the initial cost of purchase and installation on the solar panels, “Thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time.”

Sorry for those of you invested in the asphalt industry, but we have the opportunity to do something huge with these small panels, and I hope to one day drive down a street paved green.

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