Solar Panels in San Diego Built Into Our City’s Roads?
In yesterday’s post, we talked about how solar energy is a distributed technology that is 100% scalable.  Solar panels in San Diego can go pretty much anywhere – from residential rooftops to entire mega solar farms that cover acres and acres.

At Sunline Energy, we work primarily with residential and commercial rooftops.  And there are a lot of them.  In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, if every home in the country went solar, this would produce 3.75 trillion kWh of clean electricity every year (which is roughly the same amount of energy that America generated in 2011).

But the other day, we learned of a radical new approach to solar distribution.  It’s still very much in its infancy and may never become truly practical.  But the concept appeals to our geeky side, and we couldn’t resist sharing.

Working out of Idaho (of all places), Scott and Julie Brusaw have developed hexagonal solar panels covered in impact-resistant casing that is strong enough to support up to 250,000 pounds.

Why would you ever need bulletproof solar panels capable of supporting 250K pounds?

Their concept revolves around using these panels to replace traditional asphalt roads, streets, and highways.  In other words, America’s motorways would become solar generation plants that stretch from coast to coast.

The benefits of this approach are pretty impressive:

  • If all 28,000 square miles of roads, parking spaces, and highways used these panels, we could produce 3 times the electricity that our country needs every year.
  • It would be relatively easy to outfit these panels with LED lights, making driving much safer.
  • These solar panels would also produce extra heat, making it easier to keep roads free of snow and ice.
  • Building this infrastructure would create tons of new, green jobs that can’t be outsourced.  Just think about what the Eisenhower Highway system did for nationwide employment.

However, Julie Brusaw outlines what she believes is the single greatest benefit of this concept – “Imagine driving from Seattle to Florida in an EV that is being charged with clean sunshine while driving on the highway.”

When Will Street Solar Panels in San Diego Become a Reality?

It’s a pretty cool concept.  But as mentioned before, it’s still in the development stage.  And it may never become mainstream – largely because of cost.

With today’s technology, manufacturing a 12′ x 12′ glass panel costs more than $10,000 (which is about what a residential solar PV installation costs in San Diego).  At that rate, it would take $56 trillion to cover all of America’s highways.  This is 20 times more than the federal budget.

But this is with today’s technology.

Who knows where this project might go in the future?  About 5 years ago, the US Federal Highway Administration showed a lot of interest in the Brusaw’s idea.  It even awarded some contracts to help the Idaho couple further develop their concept.

So maybe in 5, 10, or even 20 years, we will be able to drive on sunshine.

In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for ordinary (yet affordable) solar panels that fit on rooftops.  They’re not as cool as solar-powered roads, but they are still pretty darn cool.

To learn more about going solar in San Diego, contact us today for a free, no-obligation quote.