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Solar Roadways: Paths to the Future (VIDEO)

May 13, 2014 12:41 PM EDT

Scott and Julie Brusaw of Sagle, Idaho have made their long-realized idea come to life. They now have a working prototype of their provocative concept "Solar Roadways," a system of modular solar panels that could be paved directly onto roads, parking lots, driveways, and bike paths, and "literally any place under the sun," The Atlantic Cities reported.

The Federal Highway Administration as well as a private grant are backing the duo to help develop their project. The prototype features hexagonal panels that cover a 12-by-36-foot parking lot.

Not only does the concept have the potential to power nearby homes, businesses, and electric vehicles, but also the panels have LEDs to illuminate the road lines and heating elements for better ice and snow removal.

According to the Brusaws' website, Solar Roadways, if launched nationwide, could generate over three times the electricity currently used in the United States.

Scott is really the brains behind this operation. An electrical engineer, he came up with this idea as a child while spending hours setting up miniature speedways on his living room carpet.

"I thought that if they made real roads electric, then us kids could drive," Scott told CNN. "That thought stuck with me my entire life."

The couple's proposal calls for the traditional petroleum-based asphalt highways to be replaced with a system of structurally-engineered solar panels. These would act as a massive energy generator that could feed the grid during daytime, and also recharge electric vehicles while moving.

With global warming and climate change on the brain, Scott hopes that this invention could make a difference.

"Our original intent was to help solve the climate crisis," Scott said. "We learned that the US had over 72,000 square kilometers of asphalt and concrete surfaces exposed to the sun. If we could cover them with our solar road panels, then we could produce over three times the amount of energy that we use as a nation - that's using clean, renewable energy instead of coal."

The panels may appear fragile, but they have indeed been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance, supposedly able to withstand a 250,000-pound load.

Through their Indiegogo campaign, the Brusaws are trying to raise $1 million to help move Solar Roadways into production and install additional projects. So far they only raised eight percent of their desired goal, and face a long road ahead.


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