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Solar Roadways Opens Demo Parking Lot

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Scott Brusaw shows how his solar parking lot can stand up to the weight of a tractor. (Photo courtesy Solar Roadways) Scott Brusaw shows how his solar parking lot can stand up to the weight of a tractor. (Photo courtesy Solar Roadways)

It was back in April, 2007 when The River Journal first introduced readers to Sagle’s Scott and Julie Brusaw, and their little dream to pave American highways with solar panels to help mitigate the effects of global warming. This month, the duo unveiled the tangible product of their vision: the nation’s first solar-powered parking lot.

There have been a lot of steps between dream and product, but the Solar Roadways vision got a solid grounding from a U.S. Department of Energy grant, which was used to build a prototype that led to a contract to build this first-ever parking lot—now located just a little south of Sandpoint in the tiny metropolis of Sagle (pop. 5,182)—in time for Earth Day.

The idea—which Scott described in a talk for TedX Sacramento (viewable on YouTube)—was to use at least some of the almost four million miles of public roadways in the U.S. to generate power for our population of almost 314 million people. While most anyone might have thought of such a plan, it took Scott, an electrical engineer, and Julie, a psychologist, to take the next step and figure out how the idea could become reality. Just how do you make a solar panel that can hold the weight of a semi-truck and trailer, and stand up to the wide range of temperatures and snowfall found throughout the U.S.? Those are the questions Scott and Julie are answering now, with a prototype available where Doubting Thomas’ can visit and see and touch the reality.

Solar Roadways has been generating a lot of press with what is, on the surface, a simple idea, but what Energy Digital has called “one of the greatest infrastructure innovations of the 21st century.” If successful, it will not only help to address the problems raised by climate change but, in Scott’s words, it can serve as a “tourniquet” to the “open, gaping, gushing wound that is global warming.”

The next big step will be to take Solar Roadways from prototype to manufacture, and for this step, the Brusaws are not looking for traditional grant funding or capital investment. Instead, they are hoping to crowd-source the effort via a campaign on Indiegogo; yes, they’re hoping to raise a million dollars by May 31, and if that sounds like a dream, so did making roads out of solar panels just seven years ago. If you’d like to help the Brusaws to take this next step, you can visit their campaign online at Indiegogo.com/projects/solarroadways, and support it with one dollar or with thousands.

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Landon Otis

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Homepage, Headlines, transportation, roads, solar power, Solar Roadways, Scott Brusaw, Julie Brusaw

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