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Forum Post: The Future Is Now

Posted 7 years ago on June 24, 2014, 5:54 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Crowdfunding campaign raises $2.2M to build solar roadways


Skeptics abound, but solar panels may soon replace pavement in Idaho town

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News 2 hours ago

It's crazy. It'll never work. They cost too much. They'll crack. They're too delicate. You'll slide off them. Oil companies will never let it happen.

Scott Brusaw, an electrical engineer from Idaho, has heard it all before. Over the past eight years, skeptics (like this one) have been telling him his concept for solar roadways — replacing America's roads with solar panels, creating a power grid where pavement used to be — won't work. But Brusaw suddenly has a reason why it will — actually, 2.2 million of them.

Solar Roadways' crowdfunding campaign, which closed on Monday, raised $2.2 million — more than double what Brusaw was seeking — in just two months. The campaign, the most popular in Indiegogo's history, attracted more than 48,000 backers from all 50 states and 165 countries.

"It's been humbling," Brusaw, 56, told Yahoo News. "Really, really humbling."

The success can be attributed, in part, to a cheeky seven-minute video ("Solar FREAKIN' Roadways!") that has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.


The campaign was also given a lift by celebrity Twitter endorsements from George Takei and Sean Lennon.

Brusaw, who launched Solar Roadways with his wife, Julie, says the funds will be used to open an office, hire staffers and test his prototype in Sandpoint, Idaho, which wants to be the first city to have them.

The concept has also received interest from an Amtrak station and the Sandpoint Airport, but they'll start with sidewalks and parking lots in town next spring, Brusaw says.

"At the end of this year, we'll have a finished product," Brusaw said. "It's not going to happen overnight — there's a learning curve here. Once we're convinced the final product works in a parking lot, we'll try residential roads. Then, eventually, the fast lane of a highway."

According to his calculations, the "smart" solar panels — encased in double-layered, bomb-resistant, bulletproof glass capable of withstanding 250,000 pounds — would, among other things, be able to generate "three times the electricity that we currently use in the United States," prevent accidents by melting snow and ice (and warning drivers of debris in the road with solar-powered LED lights) and even collect storm water. Oh, and cut greenhouse emissions by as much as 75 percent.

Brusaw, a former Marine Corps weapons technician, says he and his wife came up with the idea after watching Al Gore's film "Inconvenient Truth."

Yet despite the obvious environmental benefits, Brusaw says the idea initially received little interest from investors.

"Everybody was interested, but no one was willing to give us research money," he said.

It wasn't until he starting pitching the concept as intelligent infrastructure and a smart grid that it caught fire.

In 2009, Brusaw got $750,000 from the Federal Highway Administration to develop the prototype. "They're interested in infrastructure, and that's what we make," he said.

Grand ideas aside, Brusaw remains realistic.

"Ten years from now, I hope we have a whole lot of parking lots and a whole lot of driveways," he said. "And the fast lane of a highway."



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[-] 3 points by nakedsex (94) 7 years ago

that is awesome.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 7 years ago

How to Leapfrog Carbon

Thursday, 10 July 2014 14:17
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed


The world is going solar.

According to new data released by the Fraunhofer Institute, in the first half of 2014, renewable energy, like solar power, accounted for nearly 31 percent of all electricity produced in Germany.

In fact, solar power generation was up 28 percent during the first half of 2014, compared to the same time last year.

For the first time ever in Germany - the cloudiest country in western Europe - solar power and other forms of renewable energy created more energy and electricity production than dirty coal.

And, in June, Germany set a solar power record, using solar power to generate 50 percent of overall electricity demand for part of a day.

While Germany is relying heavily on renewable energy today to help fight global warming and climate change, it has had a pretty standard energy evolution.

In the 18th century, Germany was burning wood. In the 19th century, it was burning coal. In the 20th century, it was burning oil. Today it's getting electricity from solar and renewables.

That's a typical evolution for a developed country (that's not controlled by the financial interests of Big Oil).

But what if the dozens of developing countries across the globe, that are still stuck in the 18th century and that still rely on burning wood for energy, jumped directly to renewable energy, and leapfrogged the whole carbon cycle?

Can you imagine how that would transform the fight against global warming and climate change?

Well, that's exactly what's going on right now in rural India.

Right now, there are nearly 400 million people across India without electricity, with the majority of those people living in rural areas of the country.

They're forced to rely on candles, kerosene, and burning wood to light their homes and to do basic things like cooking.

The stunning lack of reliable energy production in one of the world's fastest growing countries led the new Indian Prime Minister, Narenda Modi, to call for every home across India to be able to run at least one light bulb by 2019 with the help of solar power.

He didn't call for more coal to be burned, or for more oil wells to be dug. He called for solar power.

That's where companies like Simpa Energy come in.

Simpa Energy offers Indians a pay-as-you-go model for solar power, allowing even the poorest Indians in the most rural of areas to have access to clean, green solar power.

Simpa Energy customers use their cell phones (which even the poorest of the population have) to purchase a pre-paid code from Simpa, which they then type into a box connected to a solar panel array on their house.

Instantly, their home lights up, and they have access to clean and green energy for cooking, cleaning, reading and anything else.

Right now, Simpa Energy, which was started just three years ago, has nearly 2,000 customers (a customer being one household) and that number is growing by the day.

The company projects that its solar power will be reaching 75,000 people across India by the end of this year.

But Simpa isn't the only company bringing affordable solar power to India.

Companies like OMC Power are building "mini" solar power plants in communities across India that are capable of powering large cell phone towers, and are marketing battery-powered LED lanterns.

OMC delivers those lanterns to its customers each day, and comes back the following morning to collect the lanterns, and recharge them using the mini solar power plants.

This service costs Indians just $2 per month.

And there are still other companies that are distributing smaller solar power generators and systems – some that are pocket-sized - across India.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency found that it would only cost $48 billion a year to provide universal access to modern energy (renewable forms of energy) to poor people across the world.

And, that same report found that there needs to be a $12 billion per year additional investment in mini-grid renewables, like the solar power systems that are expanding across India.

Speaking about the financial challenges facing solar and other forms of renewable energy going forward, Rupesh Shah, a vice president at Simpa Enegy, told ThinkProgress that, "We're at a certain scale now that we require a different level of investment. We were able to get by in the first couple of years with grants and things like that, but now we need more commercial capital."

And Justin Guay, Associate Director of the International Climate Program with the Sierra Club, said, "What is desperately needed is public institutions to step in and provide loan guarantees and other forms of risk-taking capital that can help unlock the investment that's required to really take this from a relatively distributed, small-scale approach to something that really takes on energy poverty and is able to eliminate this problem once and for all."

The bottom line is that solar power and other renewable forms of energy are the energy of today and of the future, in both developed and developing nations. Not coal. Not oil. Not natural gas.

And as the richest country in the world, we need to finally embrace that fact, and lead the world in investing more in these clean and green energies that will be powering our country into the future.

Each year, Big Oil receives $500 billion in government subsidies.

Can you imagine what would happen if that $500 billion went to investing in developing renewable sources of energy instead?

Despite what Big Oil executives and their cronies in Washington might say, going green isn't just a choice. It's reality.

It's the only option we have if we want to save the human race from a climate disaster.

So, let's start treating it like that, by investing in a secure energy future for America, and the rest of the world.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

[ edit ] Now this is the sort of thing the USA should be involved in as far as foreign aid is concerned = providing solar and wind power among other things. And So Investing in peace and prosperity in a healthy clean manner. edit-> But instead the inmates running the asylum feel it much better to pour 85 Billion Dollars a month out onto the ground - ummm scuse - into wall street - no yah sorry correct the 1st time = straight out onto the ground.

See also :

Storms will wreak havoc in the Arctic with probability of Methane Hydrates being released abruptly

I will say it again = We Can Not Transition Off Of Fossil Fuel FAST ENOUGH - "CLEAN ENERGY" it needs full implementation at home and around the world - NOW.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 7 years ago

Is This the Dawn of a Renewable Energy Revolution?

Tuesday, 08 July 2014 10:41
By Anton Woronczuk, The Real News Network | Video Interview


More at The Real News



ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.

Germany recently reached a major milestone. On a single day, it was able to obtain 75 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. And according to an April 2014 report from the Pew Charitable Trusts called Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race?, China is the world leader in clean-energy investment, having invested $54 billion in renewables during 2013, well above U.S. investment of $36.7 billion. So is the world in the middle of a renewable energy revolution?

With us to discuss his latest video on this topic is Peter Sinclair. Peter is a videographer and regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections. He Is also media director of the Dark Snow Project, an international team of researchers and climate communicators. He also runs the highly popular website ClimateCrocks.com that debunks climate change deniers. And his videos on climate change have been viewed by millions. Thanks for joining us, Peter.

PETER SINCLAIR, VIDEOGRAPHER, DARK SNOW PROJECT: Thank you very much. I'm glad to be here.

WORONCZUK: So, Peter, let's first take a look at a clip from your latest video "Birthing the Solar Age", posted on the Yale Climate Forum YouTube channel. In this clip, Jeremy Rifken discusses a recent achievement of Germany, that in a single day it was able to get 75 percent of its electricity from renewable resources.

SINCLAIR: Two weeks ago on Sunday--and I want everyone to hear this--75 percent of the electricity that powered all of Germany--and Germany's the most powerful economic capitalist market system in the world per capital--75 percent of that electricity that powered all of Germany two weeks ago was solar and wind.

Then when we have something like lots of wind creating a lot of supply, that is more than the demand, and so prices can fall negative.

SINCLAIR: And that's why that day, the actual prices for electricity on the German grid went to negative, 'cause the electricity was free.

WORONCZUK: So, Peter, this sounds pretty incredible. Energy prices apparently went negative. Tell us how Germany got to this point.

SINCLAIR: Well, Germany actually was kind of sparked by the United States. And this was some 30 some years ago, back in the Carter administration, when this country really started devoting a lot of money to developing renewable energy. And many people in Germany, for a number of reasons, found this to be very compelling.

The difference is they got started on it, took our lead, and they didn't stop. Here in the U.S., during the Reagan administration, investment in renewables plummeted, and it's taken us a long time to rebuild from that. But Germany started putting a number of policies in place at that time. And then in the recent decade or so most especially, they put into place what they called a feed-in tariff, which is a program of compensating people for installing renewable energy--small businesses, individuals, farmers, co-ops. And the program has been far more successful than anyone would have predicted in the early days. And so it has brought a torrent of renewable energy onto the German system that has--as you say, on some days, there's so much energy coming in that electric prices go negative in Germany.

WORONCZUK: Okay. And your latest video also features a TED talk by businessman Eli Musk, where he talks about solar energy shifting not just electrical power but financial power away from utility companies, who currently rely on coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy sources.

But, Peter, we also saw a recent bill passed in Ohio that froze the mandate for renewable energy use in that state. So what are the obstacles right now that are preventing the United States from doing what Germany has done?

SINCLAIR: Well, Ohio's a bit of an outlier. A number of other states have renewable portfolio standards, and there has been an effort on behalf of the Koch brothers and their related organizations to turn those laws back, but Ohio is the only state that they've been successful in so far. Most of those places, the renewable energy, it remains overwhelmingly popular, even among conservative numbers of the population. And that's one of the major messages of this video, that even very, very conservative people see the advantages of renewable energy in terms of creating more competition, keeping prices low, and empowering small businesses, individuals, farmers, and communities.

WORONCZUK: So another thing that was discussed in the video was that some people are working towards a shift in the role of utility companies from being energy providers to energy management services. Now, what does that mean? And where do we see this happening right now?

SINCLAIR: Well, the renewable energy technologies have sprung up more or less in tandem with the information technologies that we utilized that we're utilizing right now. And there is an understanding that we're moving from an era of sort of hub-and-spoke energy, where a big power plant supplies a whole bunch of individual consumers, we're moving to a network of small power producers--prosumers would be one way to call it: people with solar panels on their roof or hundreds and hundreds of wind turbines spread over a broad area, biogas generators, all the different flavors of renewable energy as a seamless Internet-like web. And the idea is that utilities are going to be less and less the primary generators of power and more and more the facilitators of moving that power around from many, many producers to the various users according to the need.

WORONCZUK: But then we might see some problems in the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy in terms of, you know, technical, political, or economic control. I mean, for example, will we see the rise of big green monopolies over the solar and wind industries?

SINCLAIR: Well, the distributed nature of the power sources kind of mitigates against monopolistic practices. For instance, in the video, one of the people I interviewed, Paul /gaɪt/, points out that of the $100 billion or so invested in new energy infrastructure in Germany, half of that is owned by people like you and me, individuals, small businesses, communities, co-ops. And this is strikingly different from the breakdown we see in the United States. Only a small percentage of that renewable energy is owned by the big utilities in Germany, who now freely admit that they missed the boat, they totally miscalculated how successful this energy would be, and they're in a bit of a pickle right now try to figure out how to manage this transition.

WORONCZUK: Okay. Peter Sinclair, media director of the Dark Snow Project, thank you for joining us.

SINCLAIR: You bet. Thank you.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 0 points by turbocharger (1756) 7 years ago

There going to have to get the cost of solar in general down through improved technologies if its going to work for anything. At least in half.

Apparently graphene is the way to go: http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/green-tech/solar/graphene-flakes-bring-higher-efficiencies-to-polymer-solar-cells


[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Crowd funding - hmmmm - so many possibilities =

Welcome to The Hopewell Project hopewellproject.org/pages/project.html

SOLAR-HYDROGEN HOME In 2006, the first Solar-Hydrogen Residence in North America was completed in Hopewell, New Jersey at the home of Mike Strizki.

Hook that up with some other developments =

Hydrogen; Nature's Fuel - YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=76ujMtLr5Z8 56:47

By Prairie Public Broadcasting · 74,990 views · Added Jan 04, 2011

This documentary tells the story of hydrogen through a series of intriguing interviews from those working on cutting-edge hydrogen technologies

There are good alternatives that are ready for immediate implementation - in a BIG WAY.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

No I hadn't - So - Thanks for providing it = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlTA3rnpgzU&feature=player_embedded

Now - I don't know the specifics - but - YES - this would ( could ) be a huge step forward.

Myself (?) I am thinking a prismatic surface that delivers the required sunlight to an offset solar collection ( conductive ) panel. This way any sunlight that makes it's way through roadway surfaces that have been clouded by the traffic crossing their surface will be concentrated and delivered to an UN-obstructed collection ( active ) panel and the prismatic surface could be part of the traction component of the panel surface.

This would be an awesome use of free energy that is delivered daily just because there is a sun up in the sky. To make fuller use of it ( nights ) - we need to implement large storage batteries = see ted talk on liquid metal batteries. Also keep in mind that for a self contained roadway heating element to work 100% of the time to clear ice and snow - that - some plowing would be required to take off the major portion of a heavy fall - unless of course no one needed to travel during a storm or for several hours ( days? ) following a storm.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 7 years ago

Few things pertaining to hope for the future truly excite me. Solar roadways is one of them.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

[ edit ] The power grid would be huge [ edit -> well the power grid is "already" huge ] - but we have need to employ vast numbers of people in some sort of meaningful work - so - why not people working to maintain upgrade and repair societies power grid?

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

There is a possible downturn tipping point in society to be addressed = not enough people employed doing meaningful work to support society as a whole - the work going undone as the money is siphoned off to feed the greed of the very few who are supposed to be providing good service to all.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

Is this not the illness that afflicts society? Greed! Fed on lines of this is expedient and necessary.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

[ edit ] When one considers the millions of miles of existing roadway and takes that square mileage and converts it to a power source? It boggles the mind as to all of the possibilities for use - especially as collection/conversion technology improves. edit -> now add in all of the parking lots as well as every single roof top or even sun-ward facing side of a building/structure.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33802) from Coon Rapids, MN 7 years ago

[ edit ] What a perfect grid to tie all power generating sources to. Wind turbines delivering to liquid metal batteries via the roadway - ditto for plain old solar farms - new power plants tie in and feed the grid "roadways" all generated excess being stored for later use in the liquid metal batteries rather than be lost for lack of demand/use at time of power creation/generation/conversion.

edit -> a break in one section of the grid would not mean a loss of all power to the complete grid. And everywhere that people are is attached to that grid = the roadway = built in redundancy as a normal byproduct of the whole assembly.