Future Perfect – Innovative ideas for renewable energy generation on highways
What’s happening right now?
Among the various means of transportation, highways cover the widest and in effect the greatest area of our precious landmass. In context of the present scenario, spaces required for energy generation are becoming scarce day by day, and yet paradoxically no substantial effort has been made to make use of the very spaces incorporated by the highways themselves. Make no mistake – solar panels have been laid beside roads, wind turbines have been installed in breezy areas; but the highways themselves continue to be the least utilized ones.
1. Solar Roadways
The Solar Roadway is a prototype of an ‘intelligent’ road with solar panels imbued onto the road itself. Along with generating clean electricity, these panels can also provide data about damages and other information, by the help of microprocessing boards embedded in them. The processor’s Radio Frequency Identification tags could be used to track vehicles as well.
The indirect economic advantage of this setup is the revenue generated by the road in form of electricity. Henceforth the costs incurred by thermal power plants would be significantly reduced, and such roadways can be maintained by the new found financial relief.
2. Solar Arch on Highways
The Solar Arch is a concept formulated by industrial designer Tyson Steele. It will provide covering for rural roads, that in turn can generate renewable solar energy for off-grid highway lighting. The Solar Arch can also supplement electricity demands in neighboring low capacity required areas. Other advantages of this visionary concept include – protection of the road from hails and icing during winter, and the sustenance of cooling effect during summer.
3. Jet Stream Super-Highway
Conceived by industrial designer David Huang, this unique concept features vehicles extracting energy from the road infrastructure and roads in turn drawing energy from the environment. Based on an open-return wind tunnel design that produces a continuous stream of air flow from the environment, the roadway is shaped like a half-pipe in cross section. It has a series of solar-powered turbines and fans hovering above to push air into the road pathway, in addition to continuously drawing air at a controlled rate by outer drawing vents on the flanks – forming a cycle effect. The solar panels lined on the upper surface of the road makes it a completely efficient green energy design. Moreover sensors communicate with vehicles on the road for necessary fine tuned wind adjustments.
4. E Turbine on the Highways
Conceptualized by industrial designer Pedro Gomes and aptly named the E Turbine, it is basically a wind generation system that uses the air movement emanated from passing traffic to produce and accumulate energy. Supposedly it can also work with street and road lighting, information panels and emergency phones. Placed between lanes, the system generates energy from air movement, which is then transferred to a main battery for storage as well as source.
5. Green Roadway Project – Solar and wind generators mounted on Highways
Contrived by inventors Gene Fein and Ed Merritt, this >progressive project is based upon the green dictum of endless highways becoming metamorphosed into renewable energy generators, which could one day power our cities with clean energy and can also offer electricity for roadside charging of electric vehicles. The Green Roadway Project makes use of strings of solar panels, wind turbines and geothermal devices, in order to convert such natural resources into electricity.
6. Concept Road Ribs that can make your vehicle generate renewable energy
Electricity Generating Road Ribs is a conceptual design that makes use of the wasted yet available energy procured from the unused energy that hasn’t been converted from the car fuel. A moving vehicle makes the rib move as well, which helps generate new renewable energy. Generated electricity is then stored in batteries installed near the roadside.
7. SolaRoad Bike Path
Enough of cars, why not something for the bikers? The Solaroad project has been developed by the TNO research institute alongside the Province of North Holland, the Ooms Avenhorn Group and Imtech, and expected to be finished by 2012. The modular system consists of thick concrete blocks covered in a 1cm thick layer of silicon solar cells, which are then protected by toughed glass. It is expected to generate 50 kWh of power per square meter per year — the resulting electricity then can be used for street lighting, traffic systems, or for household use.
The Advantages :
1. Energy generating highways can produce the additional energy output required for residences and even industries.
2. This form of energy generation is totally based upon renewable energy source, which in effect reduces the effects of pollution significantly.
3. Notably lessens our dependence on conventional sources like coal, nuclear etc.
4. Expected to be a much cheaper source of energy generation in the future, after the initial setup.
The Impact :
We should talk about the radically green impact such innovative projects and conceptions would inevitably have. Environmentally friendly in every way – right from reducing the effects of greenhouse gases, down to resource conservation, this is the righteous way to progress into the future.