It takes just 9 seconds of sunlight to provide the equivalent energy generated by burning all the oil, coal and gas we destroy every 24 hours. And solar is getting cheaper, so cheap it will dominate future electricity generation. A clear trajectory toward solar is emerging. A Deutsche Bank report published this week says that solar will be as cheap or cheaper than other forms of electricity generation in 47 states by 2016, in 36 states even if current tax credits were reduced. Even today solar is at grid parity in 10 states. The International Energy Agency now predicts that solar will be the world’s biggest source of electricity by 2050. This is a difficult challenge for the currently centralized model of electricity generation.
Update June 30 – Solar Roadways made it, raising nearly $2.3 million. Thanks to all who helped. They really have a chance now to commercialize their vision.
I will leave this blog up a bit longer so you can watch this wonderful video. We will get back to some new blogs about the future in July.
10 days left to invest in Solar Freakin’ Roadways !!!!!
Go to Indiegogo and help now.
We’ve been tracking the progress of Scott and Julie Brusaw of Sandpoint Idaho and their federally supported project to build a prototype for a smart highway that generates power and pays for itself. This is Solar Roadways. We’ve chatted from time to time and I show videos of the project in many of my programs (people love it and are amazed at the audacious idea). This is a project worth supporting. The are launching an Indiegogo campaign on Earth Day, 22 April 2014.
We share their press release below with a photo of the prototype parking lot recently completed. They modestly call it an “intelligent” highway system – but I’d call a road that pays for itself, heals itself, generates solar energy, has built in lighting, and heating that prevents ice and snow buildup, and is made of glass… brilliant!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 14, 2014
SOLAR ROADWAYS RELEASES FIRST PHOTOS OF SOLAR PARKING LOT PROTOTYPE
Announces crowdsource campaign to launch on Earth Day
SOLAR ROADWAYS, SAGLE, IDAHO (APRIL 14, 2014)
Solar Roadways was tasked by the Federal Highway Administration, with a Phase II SBIR contract, to build a solar parking lot prototype. The first photos of the initial installation have been released. “The basic installation is now done, but there is still work to do before the parking lot will be totally complete- LED patterns, covers for mounting holes and mastic to fill the gaps between panels are still to come”, said Scott Brusaw, co-founder, along with his wife Julie of Solar Roadways, Inc.
“One of the biggest challenges of this phase was to explore and test various glass surfaces and textures and test them for strength, traction and durability and all test results have exceeded our expectations. In addition to the solar cells, the panels contain heaters to keep them snow/ice free and LED lights for road lines and verbiage” , said Scott Brusaw.
The company needs to acquire funding to begin hiring a team, streamline the process for quick and cost effective production, and gear up for manufacturing. To this end, Solar Roadways will launch an Indiegogo campaign at 12:01am EST on Earth Day, April 22, 2014.
The Brusaws plan to locate their first manufacturing facility near their home in north Idaho, but envision facilities in most states and various countries as production ramps up. Solar Roadways has already received an outpouring of interest from potential customers, from their home town of Sandpoint, Idaho to remote areas of the world.
Solar Roadways is a company with a single purpose: to replace our nation’s deteriorating highway infrastructure and crumbling power grid with an intelligent highway system that pays for itself through the generation of electricity and doubles as an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized power grid.
Scott and Julie Brusaw
Happy New Year to all our Futurist.com visitors and fans.
Looking ahead, here are some thoughts to add to the endless lists of 2014 anticipations – if you like these things see Mark Anderson’s top ten for 2014, or Thomas Fry’s 33 for 2030, or David Brin’s speculations on the year ahead. Brin is an exception but most of these kinds of articles are lists of technologies and anticipated developments. I know these lists ‘sell papers’ as we used to say, and provide a certain kind of infotainment. But I don’t take them too seriously except as brain teasers. Check them out if you want.
Me? I expect the big stories of 2014 will include…
…a shift in politics to debating how and how much to increase Social Security in the United States. This meme broke through in 2013, and moved the Overton Window over by a surprising margin, away from “how to cut Social Security” and at least to ‘how to maintain it.” This shift in the political winds cannot come too soon as we face an impending retirement crisis and looming wave of elder poverty.
…a dawning realization that fracking, however successful in the next decade or two at tapping previously hard to get oil and gas, has not fundamentally changed the longer term (21st Century) energy picture in which conventional (and thus cheaper) oil has peaked, and thus we face a mostly more expensive future in energy. Cheap gas is the exception but the energy picture still demands that civilization prepare for the fossil fuel phase out to come. Negotiating this passage will literally determine whether modern civilization is maintained.
…a continuation in the downward curve in solar energy cost per watt generated, meaning that it becomes more likely that solar will become a dominant supplier of electricity sooner than later. The electrification of the transportation fleet will gain momentum in 2014.
…space exploration and exploitation will proceed more aggressively in 2014. The success of China on the moon, and the amazing drive of SpaceX and other private companies in space will make the next half-decade a likely dawn of the next era in space, the era that leads to truly occupying space.
…it is hard to know when or if a weather event will tip the balance of public concern toward a crash effort to mitigate, slow down, and prepare for global warming. The latest, and most dire, predictions suggest that this had better happen soon.
…finally, a global struggle with and about the deep issues of privacy versus security, continued drift to richer and poorer society, and the future of employment and work, will likely heighten in 2014. There is a reason, which is more than artistic or admiration of the actors, that the Hunger Games series has already placed its first two films in the top 20 grossing films of all time and is a world-wide phenomenon. There is a hunger for change that is rumbling. The fact that life imitates art in way that reeks of parody but is all too real just adds to the pressure. (In this case activists hanging a banner to protest a proposed pipeline were charged under an absurd terrorism statute – thus precisely proving the point of the banner.)
2014 will be a year of great opportunity and great challenges – not all that different than 2013 or, I suspect, 2015.
Let’s have a great year!
At the annual Future In Review conference, one of the most interesting presentations was that by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, reviewing their future of energy study that was chronicled in their report and book, Reinventing Fire. In brief, Amory explained in his dispassionate, engineering style, that it is possible to grow the U.S. economy by 158% by 2050, while completely phasing out the use of oil, coal and nuclear power, keeping the amount of natural gas we use steady, and relying instead on renewable energy and distributed grids using no newly invented technology. This could be done at a savings, according to the RMI study, of $5 Trillion. Below is an infographic created by RMI that sums up their scenario for how such a future will be created. The question is, is this a possible or a probable future?