America’s first solar roadway is a total disaster

A prototype solar roadway in Idaho was supposed to represent a possible green energy future, but technical issues have exposed just how far off the technology is from prime time.

Screenshots taken by Twitter users from the roadway’s official webcam show smoke coming out of a nearby electric box. Firefighters soon showed up to the scene, prompting the solar project’s official webcam to issue an update: “The Solar Roadways electrical system is currently undergoing maintenance. Please check back late next week.”

The prototype has a long history of disastrous technical issues.

Roughly 25 out of 30 panels installed on it broke within a week after developers pumped $3.9 million into it over 6.5 years of development.

Despite massive internet hype, the prototype of solar “road” can’t be driven on, hasn’t generated any electricity and 75 percent of the panels were broken before they were even installed.

Of the panels installed to make a “solar footpath,” 18 of the 30 were dead on arrival due to a manufacturing failure. Rain caused another four panels to fail, and only five panels were functioning shortly thereafter. The prototype appears to be plagued by drainage issues, poor manufacturing controls and fundamental design flaws.

Every single promise made about the prototype seems to have fallen flat and the project appears to be a “total and epic failure,” according to an electrical engineer.

If it had worked, the panels would have powered a single water fountain and the lights in a restroom, after more than $500,000  in installation costs provided by a grant from the state government. The U.S. Department of Transportation initially handed $750,000 in grants to fund the research into the scheme, then invested another pair of grants worth $850,000 into it. The plan, dubbed, “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways” raised another $2.2 million dollars in crowd-funding, even though several scientists publicly debunked the idea.

Scientists repeatedly criticized the scheme as panels on roads wouldn’t be tilted to follow the sun, which makes them incredibly inefficient, would often be covered by cars during periods when the sun is out and wouldn’t be capable of serving as a road for long.

Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways has received fawning coverage in The Huffington Post, Nature World News, Newsweek, Wired, Ecowatch and National Geographic. The program was supported by political leaders like Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo.

This article originally appeared in The Daily Caller

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About the Author: Andrew Follett

Andrew Follett covers energy and the environment for the Daily Caller.

  • Dorian

    I can’t resist. What do you expect…
    Another crap of an ideal by crapo.

    Liberals like Crapo are going to destroy this world.

    No matter how good an idea sounds as a nice and clean means to nurture up to nature, if the numbers (that is, economic/scientific/engineering numbers) don’t support the pragmatic and practical requirements of our socio-economic reality, then you don’t do it. But that’s where the problem starts. For it is here where Science, Economics and Engineering is now corrupted by crooked scientists, engineers and economists. These crooks distort the numbers, and so fraudulently benefit through larceny to get tax payer money to fund their illicit endeavors, all in the name of Science, Humanity and Mother Nature.

    Fraud is fraud. Its time to start putting scientists, engineers, economists and politicians in prison for these crimes.

    If it was illegal to sell snake-oil in the past for promising an incredible cure-all that didn’t work, then why isn’t it illegal for scientists, engineers and economics to promise blatantly false science and engineering products that do nothing close as they are advertised? Fraud is fraud. Its time to take Science, Engineering and Economics into court…. and politicians too!

    The problem is not poor Science or Engineering….the problem is POOR JUSTICE.

    And don’t say this is all in the guise of research. I know what research is, I’m a physicist my self. And this is not the way to do research, spending millions. You could have tested this solar walkway by spending a couple of thousand dollars on a small scale prototype, and get the same obvious results. This was all a scam!

    • Dorian

      A further point that should be investigated by the authorities.

      These so called engineers behind this Solar Roadway scam should be investigated for miss allocation of funds. Nothing that they have shown substantiates the cost of their ridiculous product. I would like to know, how much of the funds that were allocated to them went directly into their personal bank accounts in the guise of wages and consultancy fees, compared to product development and construction. In short, a forensic audit should be undertaken upon these 10th rate “engineers”. I would like to know:

      – How much money did these 10th rate engineering hucksters personally gained?
      – How much money actually went into product development? Include a Build of Materials and Costing.
      – Who else profited either by consultancy or contract fees?
      – Show specific Standardized engineering tests to support all their claims. Tests done by independent organizations.
      – How much money went into their advertising and market? (I will bet more went here than in product development).

      Seriously, this whole Solar Roadway is a scam. The FBI should be seriously taking a look at these shysters. I’ve seen high school kids do a better electronics job than these clumsy nitwits.

    • Sam Pyeatte

      There will always be people available to work on a make-work dumb project they don’t really believe in as long as we have stupid politicians demanding and paying for said project no matter how ridiculous.

  • Dano2

    This is just a recycled hit piece from Follett that he did last year.

    Too lazy to do real work, and CFACT all too glad to help him phone it in. Just like the recent polar bear piece….

    Best,

    D

  • Indeed so and it did in the late 1970’s and still does today. A wise scientific mind and man once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

    Mar 1, 2017 Green energy is eating its own tail – Roger Helmer MEP

    Debate: Information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments in the field of energy.

    https://youtu.be/ZFK6cSkrxqU