Inventor pushes solar panels for roads, highways

Hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity
Associated Press
Jul 12, 2014


The solar panels that Idaho inventor Scott Brusaw has built aren't meant for rooftops. They are meant for roads, driveways, parking lots, bike trails and, eventually, highways.

Brusaw, an electrical engineer, says the hexagon-shaped panels can withstand the wear and tear that comes from inclement weather and vehicles, big and small, to generate electricity.

"We need to rebuild our infrastructure," said Brusaw, the head of Solar Roadways, based in Sandpoint, Idaho, about 90 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. His idea contains "something for everyone to like."

"Environmentalists like it," he said. "Climate change deniers like it because it creates jobs."

While the idea may sound outlandish to some, it has already garnered $850,000 in seed money from the federal government, raised more than $2 million on a crowd-funding website and received celebrity praise.

Solar Roadways is part of a larger movement that seeks to integrate renewable energy technology — including wind, geothermal and hydropower — seamlessly into society.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., described companies like Solar Roadways as "niche markets" in the booming alternative energy industry.

"They represent the type of creative innovation that addresses design and energy, while showcasing the diversity of solar applications," said Tom Kimbis, a vice president of the association.

Brusaw said that in addition to producing energy, the solar panels can melt away snow and ice, and display warning messages or traffic lines with LED lights.

There are skeptics, who wonder about the durability of the panels, which are covered by knobby, tempered glass, and how they would perform in severe weather or when covered with dirt.

"It seems like something reasonable and something that is going to be very expensive," said Lamar Evans of the National Renewable Energy Association in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Another problem would be how to store the electricity that could be generated, Evans said.

The Brusaws have produced no estimates of how much the solar panels would cost, so the financial realities of their vision remain an unknown.

To demonstrate the concept, the company has created a small parking lot at its headquarters, using 108 solar panels. Vehicles have been driven onto the space, without damaging the panels, he said.

"We'll start off small with driveways and walkways," he said.

His wife Julie came up with the idea after watching "An Inconvenient Truth," the global warming movie featuring former Vice President Al Gore, Brusaw said.

She remembered that Scott had long talked about the concept of electric roads.

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration gave the Brusaws $850,000 to develop Solar Roadways over the past few years, and build the prototype parking lot.

This year, they turned to the Indiegogo crowd-funding site to raise additional money and move to the next phase. Launched on Earth Day, the campaign got off to a discouraging start, Brusaw said.

Donations trickled in, but two factors helped spread the company's vision: a viral YouTube video and celebrity mentions in social media. The video has more than 14 million views.

The floodgates opened when actor George Takei of "Star Trek" fame and the TV show "MythBusters" mentioned the company. They received donations from more than 45,000 people in 50 countries.

The money will enable the company to hire staff and begin production of more panels, Brusaw said.

"Once we've perfected everything, our ultimate goal will be highways," he said.



Great article. Good luck!





The Bizness

Never understood why people would be anti solar.


Re: "raised more than $2 million on a crowd-funding website and received celebrity praise."

No problem with private funding. Let the free-market decide it's success or failure.


I agree w/The Bizness. When Solar Energy has a "spill", we call it a sunny day.

From the Grave

I like it!

Darwin's choice



Solyndra is a non-issue or should be. First off, it's back in business. Second, it was funded by a program initiated by George W. Bush, so I could never quite understand why Republicans labeled it as an Obama failure. Third, more than 90% of the green energy businesses that received funding through the program succeeded, a rate far higher than new businesses in other catagories.

My new goal in life: to provide the other half of the story that Fox conveniently omits.

Darwin's choice

You're a liar! Prove what you've stated, storyteller!

obama/still failing

coasterfan/still a liar


Re: "The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C.,"

Lobbyists seeking tax dollars through crony capitalism (fascism).

Is there any need to wonder why 6 of the 10 richest counties in the U.S. surround DC?


Re: "The U.S. Federal Highway Administration gave the Brusaws $850,000,"

What's with all the talk about the U.S. highway fund running out of money? Hmmm.

"USDOT: Cash running out for roads, bridges":

The Big Dog's back

That's because the Repubs have failed to act on our aging infrastructure. Their motto- leave it to the next generation.

Think about it, the teatards haven't had to pay for anything. The WWll generation built the roads and bridges, while these teatard moochers want to pass it along to the next generation.


Actually, there's plenty of money to rebuild and/or replace roads and bridges. It's just that the Democrats are spending all of it to buy votes from the greedy, the lazy, and the inexcusably ignorant.


Re: "leave it to the next generation."

Nah, the Dems are masters at generational theft with kleptocrat programs like Soc. Security, Medicare, et al.

The Big Dog's back

SS and Medicare? Who is not getting their SS check or their Medicare?


Re: "Who is not getting their SS check or their Medicare?"

You're blathering.


Breaking News!!! Republicans aren't on Social Security or Medicare. Who knew?


"Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected," Obama
It is normal for a libtard to blame others for what they themselves are guilty of. Face it your god is a failure, He had the money and squandered it paying back campaign donors.


Great points, Big Dog. Isn't ironic that they are always showing faux concern that we are leaving financial problems for the next generation, but aren't the least bit worried about providing safe water, air, food supply, roads and bridges - not to mention healthcare - for our children and grandchildren?

What is most interesting is that the states who receive the most government assistance are RED states.


The government needs to be involved in continuing promising research.
Most will fail but some will succeed. The $$$ benefits of success will absorb the failures for society but unfortunately we only like sure things. With that said attempt to use this on a section of highway not the whole interstate system and if this works we will benefit so greatly we'll never be able to measure all the benefits.


Re: "The government needs to be involved in continuing promising research."

The govt. has a LOUSY track record of picking industrial winners and losers.

Put your money where your mouth is and invest your own cash.

H*ll, I probably own shares in more alt-energy cos. indirectly through mutual funds than you; (VGENX) among others.


The government has always been in the energy industry. You can avoid history all you want but the Hoover Dam was not a private project and the mapping of our natural resource deposits involved a lot of government. History can be interpreted several ways but don't just change it.


Meh, I don't listen to backwards thinking people, such as Contango. Their strategy is to use carbon-based fuels until the last bit of coal is gone. They are lousy at predicting the future and even worse at preparing for it.


If you don't listen to him, how can you reply to what he said?


Hearing and listening are two different things!


Can he make an intelligent reply if he didn't listen? I know you might not listen but then your typical replies aren't intelligent, they tend to be one line drive byes.


Re: "I don't listen,"

Of course, your mind is like concrete: All mixed up and permanently set.

Free market, not your brand of fascism.


For those who continue to point out lobbyist remember oil, coal, natural gas and all other resources has them too. The lobbyists for LP gas keep their industry unregulated so many of us had no means of fighting them when they did not fulfill their contracts this winter and we ended with leftover gas and a large electric bill for alternate sources of heat.


Re: "LP gas keep their industry unregulated,"

Anyone who says that the petroleum and nat-gas industry is unregulated is blowing smoke.

The oil, coal and nat-gas industry supports tens of thousands of jobs and pays billions annually in taxes. It ain't no free lunch.

The Big Dog's back

Should people work for them for nothing? And who pays the taxes? Not the industries deuce pooh.


Re: "Not the industries,"

At 35%, the U.S. has the highest corp. marginal tax in the world, porky.

Your Obama idiot-speak anal probe seems to be working better.


Contracts are not regulated and the delivery and distribution are not regulated. We paid for that dearly this winter. Paying taxes has nothing to do with it.


Re: "We paid for that dearly this winter."

Supply and demand.

The govt. can't suspend economic rules.


Meanwhile the Chinese become THE dominant players in an industry that will be the most important when all you naysayers are dead and gone good riddance may you not RIP. Ancient solar is what made the oil coal and gas in the first place. Utilizing solar is inevitable and the conservatives negativity towards it will be a distant laugh.
A solar revolution will bring more jobs than any raping of petro resources.
Grow up and grow a pair, solar is the future.


Re: "the Chinese become THE dominant players,"

Not to worry, Chinese solar cos. are going broke too.

Without govt. subsidies to hide the true costs, it's an expensive, inefficient technology.

Buy some stock:

The Big Dog's back

deuce pooh, solar energy isn't all about making money. It's about clean energy, energy that won't run out. But leave it to a right wingnut like you to only think in dollars and no sense.


"solar energy isn't all about making money."

Do you know what they call a company that doesn't make money? Bankrupt. Or a company that lobbies Congress for giveaways and subsidies... you know a crony capitalist industry.

The Big Dog's back

So your plan is to use all the fossil fuels up and leave the next generation to figure it out. Typical selfish person.


I have no problem if you wish to donate your money to whatever solar, wind, or whatever energy company you wish to. I have several companies I have bought stock in that produce solar products. Have you piddles? Or have you simply given some money to such companies? Or are you like those you complain about, just letting gov't take money from everyone and make the decision for you? I prefer to make my own decisions and leave the gov't out of it. Which way are you helping the solar, wind or whatever power companies, piddles? We are all waiting to see if you back your words with deeds or just make noise.

The Big Dog's back

In other words, what I said.


In other words I took my own money and invested it in renewable energy. I didn't demand that gov't do it. I used my OWN money. How much of your own money have you invested in renewable energy companies? Or are you just wanting gov't to do it? If you believe in renewable energy so much you should invest YOUR money there. Or don't you believe in renewables? Is your backing of renewables real and you use your own money or are you just mouthing words you read from some email chain?


Quite true. Republicans are ALWAYS on the wrong side of any new issue. If conservatives don't wish to be part of the discussion about more cost-effective and safe forms of energy, I say let them continue their Neanderthal discussions elsewhere. Personally, I don't think they should be invited to the "big people" table to partake in discussions about the topic until they quit being anti-science and anti-climate change.

Darwin's choice



The primary problem with solar power isn't just the expense of manufacture. It's the expense of storing any power generated combined with the fact that the conversion factor (sunlight --> electricity) is still very poor.

The BENEFITS of solar power, meanwhile, are pretty obvious, but there are some real technological hurdles to be overcome first. Big Dog, you think government should invest in such things. Okay, for the sake of your OWN argument, then, why has Emperor Obama cut NASA funding, and changed its overall mission to be one of "inclusion?" NASA is at the FOREFRONT of solar power and fuel cell technology evolution and development!

Meanwhile, while I deplore that this company got ANY money from the government, that doesn't make their idea a bad one. That they're getting more now via PRIVATE funding makes them all the better a corporate citizen as far as I'm concerned.


Makes me chuckle when I hear conservatives use the words emperor or imperial to describe Obama. These, of course, are the same people who last week called him weak and ineffective.


I just call him a treasonous wannabe.

Darwin's choice

He's a moron.



Enjoy it while it lasts, Coasterfan. I call him Emperor Obama not because I consider him to be any kind of an all powerful ruler, but rather for two OTHER reasons: 1. He pretty much considers HIMSELF to be an all powerful ruler (to the point of publicly lamenting that the Constitution is in his way), and 2. Because, like the old fable, however he dresses himself and his policies up, he has no clothes.

Were I to actually to seriously consider the most accurate description of the current occupier of our White House, I'd go along with the rest of those who see him as he TRULY is and just call him a traitor.


Re: "Emperor Obama,"

"We're gonna punish our enemies, and we're gonna reward our friends,"

Sounded and read like something a punk would utter. The guy is classless.

The Big Dog's back

bush, "you're either with us or against us".


Re: "bush"

Not what he said, blather boy.


As is normal with piddles, it is what he wishes bush said. That is the important part, not whether bush actually said something, but what piddles wanted. Facts are secondary to what he wanted. It is why when he is shown to not "remember" what actually happened he deflects.

The Big Dog's back
Darwin's choice



Not what he said. Read your own link, porky.

The Big Dog's back

Do I have to copy and paste it deuce pooh? You know I will.


Re: "emperor or imperial" "weak and ineffective"

Your total lack of historical knowledge regarding numerous "weak and ineffective" Roman and other emperors is astounding.


I wish the "free market" protagonist would have their way. I wouldn't have to burn corn in my car.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

For roads, I wonder if piezoelectric panels would be better?

Señor Clown

For anyone truly curious about this solar roadway idea, some simple research and a couple of calculations will reveal that it's not feasible for a myriad of different reasons. They've raised all of this capital by appealing to hopes and emotions, and have dismissed all criticism as anti-solar (peer review is an integral part of the scientific process). The 'believers' behave in a self-reassuring, cult-like manner, ignoring all the pesky logic and reason that shows the idea to be fundamentally flawed, and it's creepier than the people on here that turn every topic into a bi-partisan politial 'debate' / flamewar.


If Mr. Brusaw is a loyal Democrat and contributes heavily to Hillary then this business will do really well until the Repubs figure out where all the money is going.

Dr. Information

This stuff wouldn't last in Ohio one solid year. Nice try however.


You're right, Doc. Ohio has the most backwards-thinking, anti-green energy governor in the nation. He is an embarrassment.

Darwin's choice

And, yet, not nearly as bad as the incompetent in the white house!

"president entitlement" and "affirmative action lady"



Re: "Ohio has the most backwards-thinking,"

Pop quiz for the failed teacher:

Gov. Strickland - Dec. 2010, unemployment rate: 9.2%

Gov. Kasich - May 2014, unemployment rate: 5.50%

Which one is better?

The Big Dog's back

Strickland was Gov during the bush meltdown. kassick is Gov during the Obama recovery. Gee deuce pooh, that was easy.


Re: "Obama recovery,"

Just more blather, porky.

Asked repeatedly: EXACTLY what programs did he institute?

Gov. Strickland wrote in '08 that OH's economy was GREAT!

"Don't Believe the Doomsayers. Ohio's Economy Is Doing Fine."

The Big Dog's back

freerepublic? that's even a new low for you deuce pooh.


Re: "freerepublic?"


They wrote it, blather boy.

Dr. Information

@coaster, obviously you have a reading comprehension problem, or wait, could it be you spin things like every other liberal.

This product wouldn't last in Ohio 1 solid year. Not because someone won't fund it, because it will fail in the winter time.

Not every invention is a good invention.


We cannot even get a pot hole filled and now this? Get real people this will inevitably turn out to be a pay back to a campaign donor.
I wish it different but until we rid Washington of these scam artist there really is no point in asking for anything nice. And yes Coaster this means your god too. He is just as corrupt as the rest.


One of the many problems with solar (and wind!) power is that their generating mechanisms are just plain ugly. No one wants a coal-fired power plant in their back yard, but I don't want to look at my neighbors windmill and solar panels. (of course, the latter are politically correct, so I am expected to keep my mouth shut and suck it up.)

However, with this concept we are combining too ugly things - acres of parking lot pavement and solar panels. Unfortunately, while the concept may be brilliant, like most great ideas the devil is in the details. Lots of R&D will be needed to bring this concept to reality - if it can even be done at all.

So back off, government! Government should not be funding businesses and taking risks with my tax dollars. If this idea truly has merit let the capitalists fund it and get rich or go broke in the process. This is how the free enterprise system works and, by the way, it is how the big, bad rich people get their money: by taking risks that most of us would run from. (But this is a topic for another day.)

The Big Dog's back

Gov funds your oil companies everyday. So now what?


Re: "Gov funds your oil companies everyday,"

Nonsensical blather.


"US oil output booms—now refiners have to catch up"

It's becoming increasing difficult for alt-energy to economically and realistically compete with the abundance of oil and nat-gas being produced world-wide.

Dr. Information

And Obama wants to hurt the planet by gagging the Keystone pipeline from the US to China (thats where its heading).



"WTO: US violates trade rules in imposing import tariffs on steel, solar panels from China"

Dr. Information

There are no rules under Obamas rule.