What better place to introduce energy-generating roads than a state filled with miles upon miles of highway such as California? Assemblyman Mike Gatto agrees California is just the place. His proposal to use piezoelectricity (more about that in a moment) to generate energy for use in the electric grid is a hopeful step in a green direction for the golden state.
Cali Roadways May Undergo a BIG Change: Piezoelectric Energy-Generating Technology
Piezoelectricity, says the all-knowing Wikipedia, is "the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials ... in response to applied mechanical strain." The considerably inexpensive piezoelectric sensors that would be installed underneath particular Cali roadways will utilize the "mechanical strain" applied by the vibrations of vehicles driving on them. The energy generated would be converted to electricity that could potentially power nearby traffic lights and streetlamps.
Piezoelectric Energy-Generating Roadways: Image via www.eta.co.uk
According to Green Optimistic, this technology can produce up to 44 megawatts of electricity each year from a single-lane, one-kilometer stretch of road. That's enough to power 30,800 home in a year. Similar technology has already been put to use in Israel and has been contracted for installation in Italy throughout a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. The installation process is simple enough that it can be done during regular repaving. And not to fear, the technology is said to have no affect on vehicles in regard to how it feels to drive on, fuel efficiency, or emissions.
"A major source of renewable energy is right beneath our feet - or, more accurately, our tires. California is the car capitol of the world," says Gatto. "It only makes sense to convert to electricity the energy lost as cars travel over our roads," the politician contends. If the bill were passed, Californians would use existing funds, currently set aside, for two pilot projects, one proposed for Northern California and another for Southern California.
CA Assemblyman Mike Gatto Proposes a Bill for Piezoelectric Highways: Roadway/Highway Electrification Act
Gatto proposes that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) sell the accumulated power to local businesses and "to use proceeds for other piezoelectric retrofitting, or simply for much-need repairs to regular roads." He contends that this technology will pay for itself, noting that it will be "a significant source of 'green sector,' private-sector jobs." If you're interested in voting for the bill, check out the "Roadway/Highway Electrification Act pilot project (AB 306).
Sources: Green Optimistic and Inhabitat