Are solar panels the key to our power-hungry future? The Department of Energy appears to think so, as they've just awarded upstart Solar Roadways $100,000 to develop a new breed of road surface, dubbed "Solar Roads," whose ambitious goal is to power both the road markers and the vehicles on it.
At a cost of $7,000 per 12 x 12 foot panel, the Solar Roads do not come cheap. But for the money, Solar Roadways is promising a lot: an end to dependency on foreign oil.
Each solar panel is designed to absorb enough solar energy to power not only the LED lane markers and lights embedded within it, but also to function as a way to recharge electric vehicles on the road and those at rest in parking lots.
Solar Roadways claims each panel can 7.6 kwh of power per day - enough to actually start putting power back into the grid - and by their estimate, a mile-long stretch of the material would be enough to power over 500 homes per day.
They also claim that if all of America's roadways utilized the technology, we'd have a surplus of three times as much energy as we use as a nation or, "nearly enough to power the entire world."
But there's one slight catch: it may be a while off from full adoption, as they've yet to yield a working prototype. We're getting our hopes up just the same.