The Miracle of Solar Roadways

Parking lot east

(1) Problem

Categories are Energy and Mobility.  Perspective is city’s planning department on behalf of mayor’s office.

Many US cities are dependent on conventional power generation technologies (e.g., coal, hydro) that directly cause environmental damage (e.g., GHG emissions, ecosystem degradation).  Additionally, because of heavy traffic in dense population centers, roadway infrastructure requires continual repair, which is expensive and disruptive.

(2) Summary

  • Solar Roadways of Sandpoint, Idaho developed solar panels that purportedly can replace any and all pavement (e.g., roads, driveways, parking lots, and patios) while generating carbon-free electricity — up to 1,000 W from just dozen(s) of square yards
  • The miracle panels:
    • heat themselves, which prevents snow and ice from accumulating and thus, require much less maintenance
    • light themselves with (programmable) road markings, and can sense and indicate when animals are on the road, which enhances safety
    • are manufactured primarily from recycled materials, and are much stronger (and this will last longer) than conventional asphalt and concrete
  • US DOT funded $1M pilot, then $2.25M in start-up capital was crowd-sourced
  • Intense controversy surrounding the technology’s efficacy

Speed, B. 2015.  The great “solar freakin’ roadways” debate.  CityMetric — an online affiliate of the New Statesman, London.  Posted May 20, 2015.

website for Solar Roadways

(3) Stakeholders

  • Strategic planning department
  • City energy department
  • Roadway department
  • Sustainability department

(4) Deployment

  • Cobble together budget funds from energy department, roadway department, sustainability department, (strategic) planning department
  • Scrutinize available results to assess if the technology is bs; follow-up with cost-benefit analysis
  • Identify a low-safety-risk area to pilot test the technology, such as a flat, very-low-speed parking area (Sandpoint, Idaho has several projects ready to go)
  • Train roadway maintenance department install and maintain new pavement technology

2 thoughts on “The Miracle of Solar Roadways

  1. This a fascinating technology application that seems to have received negative reception without proper analysis of its viability. The cost is a concern since the surface is made of tempered glass. The application may have drawbacks from obstructions of the panels.


  2. Solar roadways is a wonderful idea but leaves many question marks regarding the efficiency of the solar panels and the cost. While more research and analysis has to be done, the fact that Solar Roadways Incorporated raised $2.25 million from donors in 165 countries by crowd-funding proves that this is something that many people are interested in and would like to see developed.


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