Our Cars Are Getting Cleaner and Our Roads Are Getting Smarter. Are You?

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solar roads

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As you’re probably aware, the European Union has established a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 20% by 2020 (relative to 1990 levels). This has generated a number of innovations across a number of key industries – one of the most central being the automotive industry.

Now is a time of great change and development in this industry, and with 2020 getting ever-closer, solutions to the automotive industry’s past wasteful, polluted attitude of the past are only going to get more dynamic.

Two possible solutions that we could see in the future are the popularisation of hybrid cars, and the second is solar roadways. So what are these solutions, and how can we make them a reality? The answer, naturally, is mass adoption.


How to Popularise Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars are not new. The technology has been available for years and they’ve been on the market available to both business and domestic drivers for almost as long. Unfortunately, hybrid cars have a bit of a bad reputation because although the green fuel they consume dramatically reduces the output of pollution, the price you pay to do so is more than enough to put people off.

According to the below infographic, the Toyota Prius has the majority market share of hybrid cars, but at just over $31,000 (£21,995) when bought new, the price really is too high to pay to have cleaner cars.

green car buying infographic

So what needs to be done to increase adoption? The obvious answer should be that the price will need to come down, or alternatively, the market for second-hand hybrid cars will need to increase, something that will happen given enough time and market saturation of new hybrid vehicles.

A second option that could increase the market share of hybrids and fully electric cars is our second point: solar roadways.


Implementing Solar Roadways across the World

It might sound like science fiction, but roads that are made of intelligent solar panels have been developed and are waiting to be implemented across the US. The technology is relatively straightforward, and is essentially made up of hexagonal solar panels that are covered in a layer of reinforced, high-friction glass. As far as benefits go, the list is nearly endless, but the primary one is clearly the environmental benefit. As the inventors of the technology boast, if all the roads in the US were replaced by solar roadways, there would be enough electricity generated to power the whole country three times over, and that includes if every car on the road were powered by electricity.

solar roadways

With this, consumers would likely see the running costs of electric cars come down dramatically, and the rate of adoption would steepen. The solar roadways do a lot more than provide mass amounts of electricity; they are also intelligent, providing drivers with a vast array of information. For starters, the panels are touch sensitive, and this means they know when an animal steps out onto the road, and can therefore push a warning to the cars on the road ahead to warn them. Thanks to the arrays of LEDs on the solar panels, the roads themselves can display a variety of data, so imagine a playground made from solar roadways that you can change into a football pitch or tennis court just by pressing a button.

Ultimately, hybrid or electric cars and solar roadways could drastically alter the automotive landscape by providing smarter solutions to our existing problems, so will you be part of the adoption, or will you lag behind?

  • Guest Author

    Greener Ideal strives to help you live your life in more sustainable ways with green living tips, healthy recipes and commentary on the latest environment news. The views expressed by guest authors are their own and may not reflect those of Greener Ideal.

5 thoughts on “Our Cars Are Getting Cleaner and Our Roads Are Getting Smarter. Are You?”

  1. I wish people interviewing solar roadways would show a little more skepticism. While they’ve attempted some napkin math with generic solar panels for a given area with a few minuses they haven’t made any real world production tests that would account for the lower surface area covered by the panels or the power drain from the LEDs and the communication systems. This is assuming you’re excluding a lot of the other bells and whistles that they want to put on these things. Most people that have looked at the relative power generation alone are skeptical if they can even produce enough power for LED’s appropriate enough to be visible during the day time. Meaning it’s questionable if the solar roadways will even be able to produce enough power to power their own functions.

    Their current cover is made from tempered glass which doesn’t have sufficient hardness to not be scratched by quartz which means the glass tops will get scratched by common sand and interrupt both the textured surface they’re using for friction and affect the solar panel efficiency.

    I’ve read a lot of what they’ve put out trying to address these issues and either they don’t understand the criticisms being brought forth to them or they don’t want to be public with the inherent flaws with the concept which unfortunately make the project look unusable and a probable detriment rather than a boon.

    I love wind and solar, but I have a lot of difficulty believing that solar road ways will be able to fulfill it’s intended purpose of replacing all roadways, it may be a for fun park or walk way type of thing, but either they’ve got a very long way to go to replace current roadways with such a technology or they’re hiding all of the numbers and tests that would address the criticisms of the project.

    • I wish people responding to articles about Solar Roadways would stop acting as if they have a production model which is going to be rolled out across the world over the next couple of months.

      It’s like standing in front of ENIAC and complaining because the power requirements are excessive and it won’t fit into your pocket comfortably…


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