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Environmental Visionaries: The Solar Roadrunner

Highways basking in the hot sun are wasted energy. Scott Brusaw's solution? Make them out of solar panels.  The road ahead is paved with photovoltaics. That’s how Scott Brusaw sees it, anyway. His company, Solar Roadways, is embedding PV cells and LED lights into panels engineered to withstand the forces of traffic. The lights would allow for “smart” roadways and parking lots with changeable signage, while the cells would generate enough energy to power businesses, cities and, eventually, the entire country.  Each 12-by-12-foot Solar Roadway panel would produce about 7,600 watt-hours a day, based on an average of four hours of sunlight. At that rate, a one-mile stretch of four-lane highway could power about 500 homes. Brusaw’s goal is to get the cost per panel under $10,000. That’s roughly three times the cost of asphalt. But he wants to make panels that last three times longer than asphalt roads, which have to be resurfaced every 10 years in many places. The key to commercial viability will be the panels’ glass. It must be textured for traction, embedded with heating elements for melting away ice and snow, and able to survive years of traffic. 

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