Highways basking in the hot sun are wasted energy. Scott Brusaw's solution? Make them out of solar panels
The road ahead is paved with photovoltaics. That’s how Scott Brusaw sees it, anyway. His company, Solar Roadways, is embedding PV cells and LED lights into panels engineered to withstand the forces of traffic. The lights would allow for “smart” roadways and parking lots with changeable signage, while the cells would generate enough energy to power businesses, cities and, eventually, the entire country.
Each 12-by-12-foot Solar Roadway panel would produce about 7,600 watt-hours a day, based on an average of four hours of sunlight. At that rate, a one-mile stretch of four-lane highway could power about 500 homes. “If we could ever replace all the roads in the U.S., then, yeah, we would produce more electricity than we use as a nation,” says Brusaw, an electrical engineer who completed his first prototype panel in February with funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Brusaw’s goal is to get the cost per panel under $10,000. That’s roughly three times the cost of asphalt. But he wants to make panels that last three times longer than asphalt roads, which have to be resurfaced every 10 years in many places. “Then the cost is about the same,” he says. “But that’s just a break-even. We’re also generating electricity.”
The key to commercial viability will be the panels’ glass. It must be textured for traction, embedded with heating elements for melting away ice and snow, and able to survive years of traffic. “The toughest is going to be that fast lane on the highway,” Brusaw says, “where you’ve got a 40-ton truck, maybe with snow chains. It will have to be able to withstand all that.” At the same time, it has to be self-cleaning if sunlight is to reach the PV cells; Brusaw points to experimental hydrophilic glass that uses sunlight to break down organic dirt, and rainwater to wash it away without streaking.
Next up for Solar Roadways will be qualifying for Phase II funding, a two-year, $750,000 deal to develop a commercial plan for the panels. At the end of those two years, Brusaw would like to be ready for testing in parking lots, which he sees as the perfect proving grounds for the lights and the power-generation system. Directional arrows and parking lines could be reconfigured to deal with busy times, and the electricity generated could feed adjacent businesses. “I talked to the guy in charge of power for Wal-Mart,” Brusaw says. “Superstores are roughly 200,000 square feet, and parking lots are about four times that. I crunched the numbers for an 800,000-square-foot lot and told him how much power it could generate even if it was completely full of cars. It was 10 times the power they use.”
Brusaw wants to start smaller, though—on the scale of, say, a fast-food restaurant. A McDonald’s retrofitted with a solar parking lot could take itself largely or entirely off the grid or become a site for recharging electric vehicles (while the owners stopped inside for food, naturally). “Even the best electric cars have a range of about three hours,” he explains. “But if all I have to do is find a McDonald’s, I could drive from Idaho to the southern tip of Florida.” Improbable? Yes. But “Billions of watts served” would be a cool new tagline.
By John Bradley
The automatic main gates are a big menace, as they are needed to be connected to the home outlet all the time. They need a lot of wiring and underground digging. However, the most worrying fact is the ability of the gate control to short circuit the whole house electricity. Actually, most of the time, thieves short circuit these wires that blows the fuse of the house making it easy for them to carry out their operation without any difficulty. Very few of the houses have a backup generator system. Therefore, it is uttermost important to cut off the external gate from internal power supply.
Solar Gate opener. Easy steps to install a solar gate opener for your main gate
To tackle the electricity problem at gate, people can use solar power. The solar power will not only reduce your current expenditure on main gate control but also will reduce any power surge risk by external factors. On an average with fully charged battery, the gate opener can work for 1500 cycles. However, it can work with minimal charge for 175 times during the day. Therefore, if you are thinking of changing the power supply of the main gate to solar power, following steps can be useful to you:
Difficulty Level: Easy
Time required: 5 - 6 hours working time and 12 hours battery recharge time.
You might purchase the DUI solar gate opener from any of the solar appliance deal. Once you have the solar opener kit following items will be useful for installation:
Estimated Cost: The cost can vary from 150 USD to 300 USD depending upon the quality and brand of solar gate opener.
1. First, identify the place near the gate where you want to install the control box. Once you have identified the area, drill the holes followed by fixing the control box with screws and hammer.
2. Most of the time DUI kits come with a sensor device. You need to bury the sensor under one foot deep ground inside your premises with help of shovel. The distance between sensor and gate should be close to 40 feet. The exit sensor, however need to be outside. For prevention from stealing, the best way is to bury it in a small trench. Connect all the sensors with wire to control box.
3. Connect the keypad and battery to the control box. The battery should be sealed inside the control box. However, with large batteries it is preferable to keep them hidden behind the gate inside your premises.
4. You may proceed with installation of keypad post and setting up passwords for the same.
5. After that, you need to fix the solar panel in a place where maximum sunlight comes.
6. Once the panel is ready, you may connect it to the battery of control.
7. Check the operation of your gate after letting the battery to recharge for a few hours.
Frequently asked questions
1. Will my solar gate opener work at night?
Ans: Absolutely, as the battery takes more than overnight to discharge itself fully
2. Will the device work in rain and bad weather condition?
Ans: The device will work fine even in bad weather and bad light condition as long as the battery is sufficiently charged.
3. Where can I find the solar gate opener kit?
Ans: You can purchase them online or you can buy from any solar appliances outlet.
4. Can I make my own control system box?Ans: Making control box is easy but with sensors and keypads, it is tough to make. Better option is to purchase one as they are made waterproof too.
1. Install the control system box in shade to prevent from water and little damage.
2. Install the control system box in a place that it does not affect the opening and closing of the gate.
3. Cover the open circuits of sensors with insulation tape to prevent from ground discharging.
4. Prefer concealed wiring for external and internal sensors.
Things to watch out for
1. Solar panel should be carefully installed.
2. Solar Panel should not be in any place devoid of sunlight.
3. You should take proper help during solar panel installation.
4. Never keep external sensor out in open.
5. Purchase a rapid charging battery for quicker and longer cycling period.
6. Internal sensor should be always inside the house.
7. Never keep common information as password for the house.
8. In case of unauthorized entry, ask the Police to tackle the infiltration
Ah, nothing like a mid-summer promotion… lucky for us, this one is actually pretty cool.
Sungevity, a California-based company that bankrolls the option tolease solar panels for an increasing number of Americans, is coming tofive northeastern states — in an ice pop truck.
As part of the company’s Rooftop Revolution campaign, Sungevityrepresentatives will pile into a bio-diesel-powerd ice pop truckequipped with solar panels and tour New York, New Jersey, Maryland,Massachusetts and Delaware. Destinations along the route include eventslike music festivals, county fairs, farmers markets and minor leaguebaseball games.
Two other solar lease providers, SunRun and SolarCity, are already active in parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
Patrick Crane, Sungevity’s Chief Marketing Officer, had the following to say about his company’s summer initiative:
Why ice pops? Well, if you couldn’t tell, the campaign is ripe with symbolism, as explained in the press release:
As hokey as the campaign may sound, who in their right mind is going to turn down a free ice pop in 100-degree heat?
All joking aside, it’s great news that Sungevity is moving into thenortheast. While the region doesn’t get as much annual sunshine as someother parts of the country — like the southwest — its residents tolerate some of the highest electricity rates in the country. It is exactlyhere, where the price for conventional electricity is the highest, thatsolar power often makes the most financial sense.
Over the years the village's green goals have been so successful that they have even crafted a mission statement — WIR–2020, Wildpoldsried Innovativ Richtungsweisend (Wildpoldsried Innovative Leadership). The village council hopes that it will inspire citizens to do their part for the environment and create green jobs and businesses for the local area.
It’s no surprise that the country that has kicked butt at the Solar Decathlon competition (to produce energy positive solar houses) year after year is the home to such a productive energy-efficient village. The village’s green initiative first started in 1997 when the village council decided that it should build new industries, keep initiatives local, bring in new revenue, and create no debt. Over the past 14 years, the community has equipped nine new community buildings with solar panels, built four biogas digesters (with a fifth in construction now) and installed seven windmills with two more on the way. In the village itself, 190 private households have solar panels while the district also benefits from three small hydro power plants, ecological flood control, and a natural waste water system.
Solarcentury, a solar energy company specialized in solar panels and photovoltaic systems, is one step closer to finish the construction of London’s largest solar roof. When the project will be completed, it is also expected to become world’s largest solar bridge.
As the company claims, the solar roof will contain around 4,000 photovoltaic panels above a bridge spanning the River Thames (a part of the Blackfriars station), generating 900,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year, enough juice to power 35 homes.
Scheduled by the middle of 2012, the solar bridge will also get rid of more than 500 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
The Blackfriars upgrade is part of Network Rail’s Thameslink program, intended to provide longer trains running on the Bedford to Brighton route through London. When the construction is completed, more than 24 trains per hour will travel through the central London section of the route.
“We’re creating a spacious, modern station and delivering a vastly improved train service for passengers, while at the same time installing London’s largest solar array to make Blackfriars more environmentally-friendly and sustainable,” said Lindsay Vamplew, Network Rail’s project director for Blackfriars.