The most radical and refreshing approach I’ve seen to clean energy independence

01Sep09

Every day, the argument over how best to power the U.S. economy while minimizing environmental damage, economic burden and dependence on hostile energy sources rages in the blogosphere and specialized media.  All bear at least some evidence of the authors’ interest in protecting one sacred cow or another.

Some tout the political advantage of making us less captive to Middle East politics through increased domestic oil production.  Others somehow claim that the (admittedly abundant) domestic coal supply that has blackened our skies and poisoned miners for decades is suddenly “clean coal.”

There is a growing conversation around electric- or hydrogen-powered vehicles as a way simultaneously to dial back oil consumption and carbon emissions, and create new domestic jobs from EVs and the necessary recharging infrastructure.

Others argue equally passionately in favor of “renewables” such as wind, solar, biofuels, wave power, seismic activity and other, even more exotic, solutions.

I have no idea which are or will become most feasible, economic or available.  If I did I’d be investing everything we have in that winner.  Absent such clarity or certainty, I’m pleased to see the Department of Energy, under its key alternative fuel and fuel economy legislation, funding a wide array of prototypes and experiments in parallel, recognizing that only vision, time, technological progress and failure will sort this out.  (I guess it’s a high-stakes form of crowd-sourcing.)

One completely fresh approach (at least to these amateur eyes and ears) from Solar Roadways, described in an August 28 post in AutoblogGreen as “Tarmac 2.0,” is to replace asphalt surfaces with solar road panels to create intelligent roadways, driveways and parking lots that will solve multiple problems simultaneously:

  • collect solar energy to power businesses and homes
  • replace aging roadways
  • replace power transmission (telephone poles and overhead wires) and roadway information infrastructure, e.g., static signage
  • prevent snow/ice buildup
  • enable EVs to recharge along the highway
  • improve driving safety and provide up-to-the-minute driving info
  • produce 3x the amount of more power than we’ve ever used as a nation – almost enough to power the entire world

Solar Roadways recently was awarded $100,000 in seed funding from DoE to produce a prototype.

Watch the video to understand what looks like a truly creative concept, and one that the founder claims can be implemented with existing technologies.

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One Response to “The most radical and refreshing approach I’ve seen to clean energy independence”

  1. Impressive. Lots of loose ends. And expecting bureaucrats to dissolve their empires in lieu of a better idea is a stretch, to say the least. But that’s no reason not to try!


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