You Can Drive Over This Car Park Paved With Solar Panels

By Sarah Zhang on at

If you've scampered barefoot across asphalt on a sunny day, then you know driveways are already absorbing plenty of solar energy. What if we could actually harness it? Solar Roadways has created solar panels so strong you could drive a tractor right over them—plus they light up at night and heat to melt snow.

In 2009, Solar Roadways was just a nifty concept. Five years and two Department of Transportation research grants later, husband-and-wife team Scott and Julie Brusaw have created a working prototype in the driveway of their electronics lab.

As you would expect, the prototype looks different from their original concept. For one, the tiles are now hexagon shaped, which makes for better coverage over curves and hills. Super-strong textured glass protects the solar panel, LED lights, and heating elements underneath. It can withstand a 250,000 lb load—check out this tractor driving over the panels:

Now the Brusaw's have launched a $1 million (£590,000) indiegogo campaign to continue developing Solar Roadways. The top reward for $10,000 (£5,934) is a miniature version of the road panel, which suggests your fully outfitted solar driveway is still far off in the future.

But it's certainly an intriguing idea—albeit with many challenges—to twin our road and electric infrastructures, both aging and in need of updates. A parking lot paved with solar panels could perhaps power its own lights, traffic signals, and electric car charging stations. A series of roads could be part of a town's electric grid—and just imagine the powerhouse that the interstate highway system could become. [Solar Roadways via Wired]

You Can Drive Over This Parking Lot Paved With Solar Panels

LED lit up at night

You Can Drive Over This Parking Lot Paved With Solar Panels

Scott and Julie Brusaw holding the textured glass on the panels.

You Can Drive Over This Parking Lot Paved With Solar Panels

All photos via Solar Roadways