So what’s holding policymakers and industry leaders from getting behind this idea?
Carrying it to the most ambitious goal put forward by Solar Roadways, namely replacing all paved surfaces within the United States with solar road panels, also isn’t cheap. In fact, it would cost, according to one estimate — brace yourself — $34.5 trillion, according to TreeHugger’s Lloyd Alter. That’s more than twice the gross domestic product of the United States for 2011. By comparison, the cost of building coal-fired power plants producing the same amount of electricity would be about $14 trillion, according to AZoNano.com.
That’s a large investment for a concept that’s still unproven. Although the Department of Energy gave Solar Roadways a $100,000 to develop a prototype, there are still many questions to be answered: Can the solar road panels delivery the kind of energy that would make them cost-efficient? Would the roads be able to support load of the constant flow of traffic day after day, year after year? Would the glass surfaces create any issues for drivers at high speeds in adverse weather conditions?