Please sign this petition if you have not already done so? It’s a (very) long shot to think we could achieve it – but it would be a world-changer. A world saver…
I started the petition on Change.org, but Move On has allowed me to re-post it.
Grid The Roads!
By John Hechtman (Contact)
To be delivered to: The New York State House, The New York State Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama
Install solar (photovoltaic) panels over all public roads. We throw away terawatts of electrical power by not doing so!
I started this petition with Change.org. Sign there or at the Move On URL above.
This project would have massive benefits for the US economy, its citizens, and the Earth as a whole. The idea is simple – install solar (photovoltaic) arrays above all public roads. This provides a huge range of benefits! To list some:
*For brevity, let’s call these installations PVAs – for photovoltaic arrays. The PVAs could (first) reduce or perhaps eliminate the electricity needed to light the roads at night, or in cloudy weather. Electricity generated during the daytime could be stored in large capacitor holding stations for use after dark or when needed.
*So called ‘excess’ electricity could be fed back into the existing electrical grid. This would have many powerful benefits.
*Doing so would reduce the cost of electricity nationwide, both for individuals and corporations. That alone would give the US economy an enormous boost.
*Generating local PVA electrical power would reduce our burning of fossil fuels, thus reducing global warming.
*Since PVAs are a sustainable/renewable energy source, we greatly reduce the risk of social collapse from Peak Oil, Peak Coal, etc.
*The manufacture, installation, and maintenance of the PVAs would create a fantastic number of local jobs. Jobs that could never be outsourced, or eliminated, as they have to (always) be done on a local basis. Jobs that will always be needed to maintain and expand the PVA infrastructure. After the first round of PVA installation on Federal highways, the project can be continued on state and local roads. The more PVAs we install, the lower the cost of the electricity generated.
*Since the land below the PVAs is already dedicated to roads, very little additional land is needed to implement the project. Nor would land have to be seized under ‘eminent domain’ – the small tracts needed for capacitor holding stations could be bought or leased.
*Such a national campaign would provide funding for research and development of ever more efficient PVAs. The more we do it, the better we’ll get at it, and the lower the price of electricity drops. Plus, the more we do it, the less (and less) fossil fuel we need to burn for electrical power. It’s a win-win that keeps on winning for everyone.
*Properly designed PVAs could partially shield roads from rain and snow. This not only makes driving safer, but reduces plowing and salting costs in winter time.
*PVAs could be used to provide charging stations for electric vehicles, thus helping still more to move the US toward renewable resources.
*By reducing our need for oil and coal to create power, we not only reduce the pollution from burning them, we also reduce the pollution created by mining/extracting them. Further, we increase US national security by becoming less dependent on foreign oil. It could also help disaster-proof the US power grid, making it more resilient in case of natural or man-made outages.
*We could eliminate the need for dangerous, non-sustainable, polluting nuclear power.
*We can move beyond the conflict of government projects vs. private industry projects. The US government could work in tandem with existing power companies to create the needed infrastructure. The government could help finance construction, and then receive revenue from the power generated in the form of new taxes. Even with some tax load, the new electrical power will be cheaper than current power sources. Industry would get subsidies, just as the US government subsidized the construction of the highways themselves, along with many other historical examples.
*This concept is not theoretical, it is very similar to two new projects in India. The first one is the Canal Solar Power Project that is currently working. The only real differences are the use of roads, rather than canals for the underlying right-of-way, and the scale of the project. More info is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal_Solar_Power_Project The second project is from the Gujarat Energy Research and Management Institute (GERMI) where scientists have proposed a pilot solar power project at a Gujarat state highway. Through computer simulation the scientists believe that a solar roof cover on the 205 kilometre (km) Ahmedabad-Rajkot highway can generate 104 megawatts (MW). The GERMI scientists note that the elevated structures that would support the solar PV modules would also help in rainwater harvesting. If applied to the railway network such projects could supply power to the trains and may help reduce the dependence of Indian Railways on diesel.
Read more on the second one (PVAs over roads) at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/04/02/indian-scientists-propose-solar-roofs-for-roads/?utm_source=Cleantechnica+News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=af255b9dd6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN#gsc.tab=0
The second report came out a few days after I first posted this petition, so I’m close to the Zeigeist…
*Historically, we have developed our infrastructure to only meet one need at a time. But more enlightened design, along with better technology, can help us create roadways that serve multiple needs, all at the same time. Just as some ecologically designed buildings sequester rain water, and harvest solar power, so too, our roads can become multi-function, multi-benefit infrastructure. Truly, this is an idea whose time has come.
On an ever more crowded planet, infrastructures must be designed to provide not one, but multiple benefits. GRID THE ROADS!