Innovative Solar Panel Parking Lot Could Someday See The Light
A parking lot made from thick, hexagonal solar cells tough enough to support the weight of a tractor? It's more likely than you think.. A 12-by-36 foot prototype "solar parking lot" made from the super-tough panels can generate enough power by day to keep nearby street lamps and signs safely glowing at night.
The lot – and the unique solar cells that comprise it – were conceived by Scott and Julie Brusaw, co-inventors and co-founders of Solar Roadways. As the couple began engineering their concept into reality, they found that a host of complementary benefits could be derived from what was originally intended to be a basic parking lot with the energy-gathering power of a 3,600-watt solar array.
Take the hexagonal panels: beneath their textured glass covers there's plenty of room for a circuit board, programmable LEDS, and an ice-melting heating element.
The design also takes into account neighboring and associated utilities. Each completed parking lot includes an integral underground cable corridor that doubles as a storm water removal system.
Above all, however, parking lots have to hold cars and the main drawback to installing solar panels on these potent solar light and heat absorbers (ever walk barefoot on an asphalt parking lot in summer?) has been the fragility of the panels.
Not so the hex-cells designed by the Brusaws: their prototype lot easily supports the weight of a tractor while remaining cool enough to protect Fido's feet. Check out their YouTube video to see it in action!
The Brusaws are hoping to raise $1 million to refine their solar parking lot design to the point where commercial production is feasible. To that end, they've instituted an Indigogo campaign that began, appropriately, on Earth Day: April 22nd of 2014. (via AutoNet and Inhabitat)