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Riding the ‘electric road’: Idaho startup sees solar highways powering the future

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 08:41 PM
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Riding the ‘electric road’: Idaho startup sees solar highways powering the future
http://www.idahobusiness.net/archive.htm/2009/09/21/Rid...

When Scott Brusaw looks at a long stretch of blacktop he doesn’t just see a road, he sees an opportunity to provide abundant low-cost energy, and revolutionize the way we think about our infrastructure.

It’s a dream he’s had since he was a kid: merging the nation’s power grid with its system of highways and byways into an “electric road” that would power homes, businesses and vehicles. Now, after more than 20 years in the electrical engineering industry, Brusaw and his wife, Julie, may have finally hit on a way to make the “electric road” a reality.

As co-owners of Sagle-based startup Solar Roadways, the Brusaws have drawn up plans for a road system built of 12-foot-by-12-foot solar panels rather than asphalt. The panels would draw energy from the sun to power surrounding homes and businesses, and provide the foundation for a new “smart” power gird.

The idea has a long way to go before it’s on the ground, but the federal government is willing to give it a shot. Solar Roadways was recently awarded a $100,000 SBIR Phase 1 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to build a prototype solar road panel for testing and demonstration. If it pans out, Brusaw said phase two would include an additional $750,000 over two years.

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