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Old 07-22-2014, 10:38 PM   #1
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Solar pavement

Solar Roadways - A Real Solution

This is fascinating!!! While it may be useful on roadways I think the initial installations will be on parking lots and sidewalks in communities that get a lot of sun but also snow in the winter. Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming come to mind first.
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Old 07-22-2014, 10:50 PM   #2
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Solar Roadways - A Real Solution

This is fascinating!!! While it may be useful on roadways I think the initial installations will be on parking lots and sidewalks in communities that get a lot of sun but also snow in the winter. Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming come to mind first.
Actually suggests a way to kill two birds with one stone. In areas such as Ca where droughts occur, or where water is scarce all the time, replace ornamental landscaping with this material. You cut CO2 emmissions, and save water for food.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:22 AM   #3
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This is one of the worst ideas I've seen in a long time.

If you consider yourself a true environmentalist, please fight against stupid, wasteful, ideas like this. And to add injury to insult, they are getting some Federal funding to pursue this loser, that will do nothing but waste resources. Hyped beyond belief.

Here is why this is a bad idea:

Solar panels take huge amounts of energy to produce, and some other nasty pollutants are produced in the process. So when we 'invest' this energy/materials into producing a solar panel, we should strive to get the most power from our investment, to offset those negatives over the long run.

A) To get the most from a solar panel, you put it at an optimum angle to the sun, based on your latitude and season. Laying it flat means losing a very significant amount of its potential energy production (unless you are on the equator - and even there, tilting the panels to match the seasons helps).

B) Solar panels need to be kept clean and not be blocked by shade. Groups of the individual solar cells are wired in series to boost the voltage to workable levels. Remember the old Christmas lights wired in series - one goes out and the whole string goes out? Solar cells are similar, blocking a small area doesn't just reduce the output by that amount blocked, that whole 'string' goes out. So any shade at any time (like a car, street sign, etc ) or any dirt (bird poop, oil and dirt build up, a small patch of snow/ice that the plow miseed) dramatically reduces output.

C) Combining the above, solar panels set at the proper angle are also somewhat self-cleaning. Rain will wash away some of the dirt. Snow tends not to build up.

To the extent that we promote solar, it should be installed properly in order to get the most benefit. Even installed optimally, it takes about two years of production before the panel has produced enough energy to offset the energy required to make it. Install it sub-optimally, like this article suggests, and you may never get your energy back - a total waste, and a big lost opportunity.

From their own estimates (probably biased):

Quote:
For fairness, let's subtract 31 percent from our totals since we can't angle roads and parking lots:
So ~ 1/3rd reduction in output (just due to angle) means you need to produce and install 50% more panels than if they were tilted (and they don't account for adjusting tilt during the season, which is feasible on an industrial scale installation, and the dirt/shade factor). Why produce 3 panels when 2 will get the job done? You wasted a panel that could be producing energy instead!

See why this is a very bad idea?


I may look through their site more, but so far I don't even see an estimate for costs, just hype about 'how much would it cost to not do this?'. And solar power has other limitations - once it become more than a small part of our total power, you need to add storage ($$$$ and not really practical at this time), or add more fossil fuel 'peaker plants' to cover the intermittent power.

Bottom line, treat solar panels as the valuable resource they are, and don't waste them. Use them where they can do the most good. These 'feel good', 'rah-rah' ideas are a huge waste of resources, and distracts from real solutions.

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Old 07-23-2014, 01:10 PM   #4
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This seems like a horrible idea in my opinion as a road construction/transportation engineer.

ERD50 did a good job showing why it's a bad idea from the energy standpoint.

Here's why it's a bad idea from a constructability/engineering standpoint. Roads take a ton of abuse. That's why they are built out of hardy materials (like concrete and asphalt). You want the pavement material to last a long time without needing maintenance. Closing down part or all of a road to troubleshoot or replace malfunctioning or defective panels has a lot of monetary and non-monetary costs (traffic control, traffic safety personnel, motorist delay, work zone danger exposure to crews, public perception). Will the panels be forgiving if the subgrade material starts to fail prematurely?

It would be a huge hassle to do any work on these puppies once installed. Sidewalk paving - maybe (ignoring issues of poor angle toward the sun). I think rooftop installations are a lot easier to deal with if you don't want to consume open land. But there's so much open land in many places that a PV solar farm can be built cheaply and easily (en masse) on huge tracts of land.

The only sensible application of PV solar I've seen in the transportation field has been for powering remote devices like the variable message boards, smart sensors (microwave vehicle detection devices), weather stations, pavement sensors, fiberoptic or other comms cabinets, and the like. If pulling a power cable from the grid is prohibitively expensive (complexity, timing, distance), solar PV can be a good alternative.
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:31 PM   #5
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Bottom line, treat solar panels as the valuable resource they are, and don't waste them. Use them where they can do the most good. These 'feel good', 'rah-rah' ideas are a huge waste of resources, and distracts from real solutions.
Each significant installation needs to have its own cost-benefit analysis to determine if they make sense. They certainly aren't right for all situations, and there are likely some situations where it would still make sense even if suboptimal because of angles and wear on the surfaces (think light traffic, where the sun shines 300+ days a year, et cetera). Neither a "rah-rah" nor an "anti-rah-rah" approach are likely to be correct. Dogmatic, yes. Always right... no.

It seems funny, too, that solar panels be considered a "valuable resource" to be used sparingly when the alternative seems to be more heavy usage of other "valuable resources" which are a lot less renewable than the sun.
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Old 07-23-2014, 01:53 PM   #6
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...

It seems funny, too, that solar panels be considered a "valuable resource" to be used sparingly when the alternative seems to be more heavy usage of other "valuable resources" which are a lot less renewable than the sun.
I think you misunderstood my intent.

A solar panel is a 'valuable resource' because it takes a lot of those less renewable (fossil fuel) sources to make one.

I'm not saying they should be 'used sparingly', I'm saying they should be used wisely. It's just common sense that if I can place a panel where it produces 100 units of power, versus placing that same panel where it only produces 60 units of power, and costs more to install and maintain, that I should put it where it will produce the 100 units (all else being roughly equal).

Of course there are other considerations. Like FUEGO pointed out, if you need to power something away from the grid, a solar panel might make good economic sense, even if it isn't the most optimal use of the panel. But that's probably fine, there is probably some environmental impact from trying to run the grid there, so that helps offset some of the inefficiency. And those are usually relatively low power applications, we aren't talking about 'wasting' huge absolute amounts of energy.

I'm not trying to ignore the old 'perfect is the enemy of good' saying. We don't need perfection with every solar install, but this idea is so extremely bad from every angle that it should stand as the poster child of bad 'green' ideas.

The only 'good idea' in all this was from the viewpoint of the developers - they saw there was Federal grant money for ideas that hit the right buttons, so for them it was a good idea to get some grant money. Every other person (and the environment) loses.

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Old 07-24-2014, 10:01 AM   #7
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Solar Roadways - A Real Solution

This is fascinating!!! While it may be useful on roadways I think the initial installations will be on parking lots and sidewalks in communities that get a lot of sun but also snow in the winter. Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming come to mind first.
Cool!
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:15 AM   #8
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Some time ago a friend of mine, another engineer and very much a big solar advocate, sent me a link to this. We both just thought it was about the stupidest thing we could imagine. One of their arguments as I recall was that there was not enough space to put up panels, fly over any city and you will see enormous amount of unused rooftops especially on commercial buildings. And roads are hard enough to maintain, can you imagine the cost of maintaining all those panels, the supporting copper, and inverters. So many better and cheaper places to install and maintain solar panels. But you have to admire these folks, they seem to know how to raise funds to keep themselves busy.
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:36 AM   #9
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Solar shingles make more sense to me, though they are probably not yet economically viable.
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:49 AM   #10
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Solar shingles make more sense to me, though they are probably not yet economically viable.
That would be fun. A house with solar shingles, and have a Nissan Leaf plugged in the garage
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:51 AM   #11
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Solar panels over parking lots are great. They can be optimally sited and angled on freestanding racks while providing shade at the same time. We are starting to see more of them in SoCal. I've seen them in Arizona, Italy, and Spain, too. In fact Italy has a lot of them.

Since the panels are so much more efficient than they once were, they don't have to be perfectly angled to work well which makes roof installation more practical now. Our roof faces SE, but we are getting the advertised productivity from our not quite year-old panels.

Oil requires an increasing investment of petroleum products to retrieve, too.
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:55 AM   #12
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Beside probably being impracticable reading about the companies founders (About Us on the Solar Roadways web site) left me scratching my head. A husband and wife team, he is an Electrical Engineer but doesn't seem to have any prior background in solar energy before starting this company, she has a psychology degree and is a practicing counselor.
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:32 PM   #13
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Some time ago a friend of mine, another engineer and very much a big solar advocate, sent me a link to this. We both just thought it was about the stupidest thing we could imagine. ... So many better and cheaper places to install and maintain solar panels. But you have to admire these folks, they seem to know how to raise funds to keep themselves busy.
+1

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... A husband and wife team, he is an Electrical Engineer but doesn't seem to have any prior background in solar energy before starting this company, she has a psychology degree and is a practicing counselor.
I think he knows enough about electrical engineering to dodge any direct questions from technical people (see their web site), and I think her psychology degree may be applied here to connect with the emotional side of people for support of this hair-brained idea.


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Solar panels over parking lots are great. They can be optimally sited and angled on freestanding racks while providing shade at the same time. ...
Yes, OVER the parking lot makes so much more sense than in the parking lot/road. It's still questionable if it makes economic sense at this point, but at least it isn't wasting the potential of that solar panel, and adding other expenses and unknowns.


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Since the panels are so much more efficient than they once were, they don't have to be perfectly angled to work well which makes roof installation more practical now.
Well, I would think you would still want them at the proper angle to get the most out of them. That's a basic premise of environmentalism (waste not). The further South you are the less effect there is, and maybe you hit the break-even point between cost of mounts and the difference in output.

FWIW, I'm not a fan of residential roof-mounted solar. Again, it makes more sense to install solar on an industrial scale.

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Cool!
Have you looked through their web site? I'm confused as to what would be 'cool' about all their BS? I started looking, and if they are concerned about global warming as they claim, they really should stop producing all this BS. BS is high in methane gas, a powerful green-house gas.

I will look through their web site some more, I have to run now, but if any awards are to be given, I'd say they have likely earned an award for the most logical fallacies per paragraph of any publication. It's mind boggling.

Don't have much time now, but as a quick start, first they denigrate any critics, claiming they are naysayers and 'haters' and are making up numbers (while they admit they don't have any numbers!). And that old classic 'all the successful ideas have harsh critics w/o vision' - as if having critics proves success?

Their rebuttals to the 'critics' are diversions, circular, straw men, and just silly. There is no 'there' there. They simply claim that these will pay for themselves (but no numbers?), so of course, how can anyone be against roads that pay for themselves? The alternative is to raise taxes! Huh?

Then they have these impressive numbers of how much it costs to maintain our present asphalt roads. And magically, that becomes a 'reason' to support their roads. But they have no numbers to show their roads are cheaper - you are just supposed to have faith in their statements.

Any numbers I saw were w/o any meaningful context. This whole thing is just silly beyond belief.

They use the grid for those ice-melting plans. That approach has been around since before I was a kid. If it was practical, it would be done on a large scale today. The solar panels have nothing to do with it, other than just being expensive inefficient solar panels.

I could go on and on, but I have to run. We could play "Find the Fallacy" all day.

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That would be fun. A house with solar shingles, and have a Nissan Leaf plugged in the garage
As we discussed in the Tesla thread, solar panels and electric cars are separate, each with their own pros/cons. Combining them does not change anything. If you really want the most bang for your environmental buck (and you should), you want solar panels where the grid is dirty, and EV's where the grid is clean (if you want them at all - the benefits are questionable, and pretty marginal in the best case).

Have 'fun'. But reality has a way of wiping out fun, unless you acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit.


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Old 07-24-2014, 01:10 PM   #14
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ERD50,

You're funny

I didn't know just one word as "Cool!" would bring about such a response.

If I see a sunset and say "beautiful", would you then point out the skin cancer and harm that the sun produces?
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Old 07-24-2014, 02:19 PM   #15
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ERD50,

You're funny

I didn't know just one word as "Cool!" would bring about such a response.

If I see a sunset and say "beautiful", would you then point out the skin cancer and harm that the sun produces?
Well, I don't think scams perpetrated on the public are funny, and this is a scam, and he's getting tax dollars, and I think 'crowd-sourcing' funds. Was Bernie Madoff 'cool'?

If you want to judge this as a work of art, on aesthetics alone, then feel free. But that is not what it is being presented as, so I didn't take your comment that way.

There are a lot of scams like this, that mislead well meaning environmentally minded (but not critically-thinking, or maybe not technically literate) people. They take advantage of them, and yes, it torques me off. It torques me off to see people cheated. It torques me off that rather than actually improving the environment, scams like this distract from actually doing good things, in favor of 'cool' things.

And it torques me off that more people don't get torqued off over these scams.

Well, I gotta finish cutting the grass, wearing my sun hat to protect myself from those evil UV rays

-ERD50
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Old 07-24-2014, 03:31 PM   #16
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My issue with their concept is how are they going to protect all that wiring from copper thieves?
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Old 07-24-2014, 04:14 PM   #17
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Solar shingles make more sense to me, though they are probably not yet economically viable.
perhaps in some parts of the country. I know solar tiles were about 2x more expensive than pv panels when I looked into them. My guess is that within 5 yrs most solar installs will make economic sense, simply because of the rate of decline in cost. I think this is one of the reasons power companies are now trying to stop incentives for residential installs now.
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Old 07-24-2014, 04:26 PM   #18
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Actually suggests a way to kill two birds with one stone. In areas such as Ca where droughts occur, or where water is scarce all the time, replace ornamental landscaping with this material. You cut CO2 emmissions, and save water for food.
Or perhaps modify the zoning rules to allow yards to have solar panels at the proper angle with gravel under them. The north side of the yard might still have grass since it takes less water since it does not get as much sun as the south side, thus less water needed.
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Old 07-24-2014, 06:41 PM   #19
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You guys need to watch this. It might shed some light on it for you.





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Old 07-24-2014, 07:56 PM   #20
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Well, I don't think scams perpetrated on the public are funny, and this is a scam, and he's getting tax dollars, and I think 'crowd-sourcing' funds. Was Bernie Madoff 'cool'?
Huh? Bernie Madoff got tax dollars and did crowd sourcing? Or did he tell his marks that he was making money for them with solar panels? How does Madoff relate to any of this? LMAO.
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