Revealed: World’s first solar car park that will help to cut greenhouse gasses in half

The first working solar car park has been unveiled, which the manufacturers hope will help to pave the way for future transport links.

The car park, in Idaho, the US, has been built by Solar Roadways which has been working on the technology for years. In an announcement today, it has revealed the 12 x 36 foot parking lot located outside the company’s engineering lab.

It is fully functional and made up of individual panels which include solar cells, LEDs, heating elements and a textured glass surface.

It’s hoped the panels could replace traditional road surfaces and help to collect renewable energy that can be used to power our homes and buildings.

The development of the solar roads has been underway since 2009 and in part has been funded by the Federal Highway Administration. This shows the US government’s attitude that roadways can be harnessed to help improve the environment.

Previously on its website Solar Roadways has said proving solar roadways will ensure everyone has power and there would be no no more need to burn coal – which contributes to 50% of greenhouse gases produced.

 

The roadways are made up of three different layers which all provide different advantages and functions to the overall roadway.

The road surface layer is weatherproof, made of reinforced glass, and allows sunlight to pass through to the layers below.

The electronics layer contains a heating element – which could be used to melt snow and ice on the roads-  the solar cells are also included in this layer and an on-board microprocessor controls lighting and communications.

On the bottom of each individual tile is the base plate layer, which enables the road to distribute the power collected. It is also waterproof to protect the electronics layer above it.

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Details of the amount of electricity produced by the parking lot have not been released yet, but the makers have said it is more than they expected. It also said the strength of the glass was tested in a civil engineering lab.

The LEDs inside the road can be programmed to light up in patterns. If adopted in a widespread manner this could show drivers when to slow down and display road markings and warnings.

In the released prototype the solar cells only cover 69% of the car park’s surface but the company says when in production it will cover the entirety of the surface.

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The next steps for the company, and the technology, will be the most crucial as a deal with a major manufacturer will be essential for the mass production and implementation across cities.

Solar Roadways, writing on its Facebook page, said: “We have lots of potential customers that we are talking to, but next step is to acquire the funding to gear up for manufacturing. We need to hire a team, streamline the process etc.”


Images and video courtesy of Solar Roadways


Six times the power: the radical new wind turbine set to light up developing nations

A wind turbine that produces 600% more green energy than traditional turbines could be used to provide electricity to developing countries.

SheerWind, the company behind the powerful device, says it hopes it can be used in places where there isn’t a readily accessible supply of electricity, as well as commercially.

It calls the technology INVELOX and says it’s price competitive with traditional energy, as well as being able to reduce installation costs and also create more electrical energy than old designs of the wind turbine.

VP of marketing and communications, Carla Scholz, told Factor she would like the power of the turbines to be used in the future to help people in developing countries.

She said: “We envision distributing INVELOX in remote villages and communities that are in dire need of power to develop and thrive. That’s the ultimate goal.

“My personal want is to have a SheerWind foundation that will distribute INVELOX systems to countries that absolutely need clean energy to not only cook their food and have safe food but also to expand their knowledge of the planet through the technologies we all take for granted. Not to mention healthcare and the ability to provide safe healthcare.”

The turbine operates with wind speeds as low as 2mph and apparently provides no risk to eagles, and presumably all birds, that are passing by.

The product makes use of funnels and tubes to harness the energy of the wind. This is directed through the funnels and to the generator of the turbine.

Unlike traditional turbines, the patented technology keeps the generator on the ground and sends the wind to it – rather than having a generator at the top of the turbine. The result is the design is capable of producing 600% more energy due to the low wind speed, SheerWind say.

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The company has just signed its first licence agreement for distribution of the technology in New Zealand.

But it has ambitions which are set much high and is involved in talks with nations from all across the world.

Scholz says it is highly likely that there will soon be pilot projects in Dubai and Bahrain.

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She said:  “We definitely are in talks with them. There’s some large manufacturing companies that want pilot projects and they’re going to come to fruition very soon. There is lot of companies that use a lot of power and this will be very helpful to them on many levels.

She added: “In the next few years we plan to install units ranging from 200KW to 2MW nationally and internationally.

“This is at the same time as we’re establishing partnerships in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America. Those will be locally manufactured, marketed and sold.”


Dubai image courtesy of TravelOurPlanet / Flickr via Creative Commons.