On the road to clean energy

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First Posted: 5/26/2014

A few months ago, I did one of the worst possible things a driver can do: I swerved into oncoming traffic just to save a turkey.

As stupid as I was in my blindness to save the animal, the poor guy got hit anyway by a girl behind me too busy texting on her phone to even realize anything was in front of her. Luckily for me, I did not get hit, but since the turkey did, I was traumatized for a good week. Dwelling on the incident, I thought to myself, “With all the amazing technology out there nowadays, why isn’t there something to warn drivers of an upcoming accident, road blockage, or even when an animal is crossing?”

It turns out that there is such a thing that can significantly improve our roadways and change the way we drive forever. Because of all the advanced technology we have today, we are now able to harness the power of the sun and create solar energy. Solar panels have been around for a while, but it wasn’t until recently that Scott and Julie Brusaw started their solar roadways project.

“When we first got into this, our goal was to solve the problem of global warming,” explained Scott. “We were told that about 50 percent of the greenhouse gases causing global warming came from burning fossil fuels used to power or create electricity, and another 25 percent came from our tailpipes burning gasoline and diesel.”

Scott and his wife Julie wanted to do something realistic; they both knew no one was going to stop driving their cars or using fuel, so that’s when they got the idea to use durable solar panels on roadways. The two have spent the last decade developing solar panels that could be installed in roadways, parking lots, driveways, and even sidewalks. Instead of paving streets with asphalt, solar roadway panels would be installed that would theoretically be able to decrease our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels by generating clean energy. The clean energy created would essentially pay for the roads and then some. Jobs would be created and boost our economy, and sensors in the panels would be able to warn drivers of any oncoming problems, such as an animal crossing the road. Because the panels are solar, they would also be able to melt the snow, essentially eliminating any type of weather-related car accidents. These solar roadway panels have the ability to create clean air and a sustainable future.

Society is driven by new ideas, and people support some crazy schemes, so why not support something that can actually change the future? If all the roads in America were converted to solar roadways, the country would generate three times as much energy as it currently uses. That’s a whole lot of clean energy!

While solar roadways are only in the beginning phases, a grassroots effort has been pushing the project into production. It may seem like a long shot, but the genius husband and wife team behind the idea has reached a point where they can actually start producing and setting up panels. A crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo has helped raise more than $1 million for the project.

For those who would like to contribute, the campaign runs until midnight on May 31 on indiegogo.com.