This time it’s solar roadways. Like just about any hokum that you stick “solar” or “green” in front of the whatever and people just line up to hand out the cash. I’ve seen this for forty years now, since I was fifteen and I’ve never understood it. I suppose it’s the idea that you get something for “free.” The problem, as I figured out very quickly with a quick little bit of math after my dad and I went to an early green house show back in the 1970’s the costs of a typical solar installation are not covered by the electricity generated.
I realize that that was a long time ago, still even though solar costs have come down significantly they are still expensive, especially when compared to the energy recovered. Unfortunately the physics of the renewables work against them. The problem is, and always will be, energy density. The renewables need to be able to work a their maximum possible efficiency or the low energy densities push costs through the roof. The problem is and always will be too much silicon, concrete, glass, copper, plastic aluminum and all the rest of the stuff that you need for too few kwh.
Solar roadways, by laying the solar cells flat on the ground take away a large portion of the potential solar emissions that they could be collecting. Which means that the initial investment/kwh is higher than that of a rooftop panel even before you add in the LEDs and road surface covering with all the issues that arise from them. In what has to be a very hostile and unpredictable environment anyway.
For that matter, even the typical asphalt road is carefully engineered for drainage and
freezing, as well as the heavy loads that a road has to endure that mean a road has to able to adjust to different weather conditions and loads. A glass panel can’t handle those kinds of changes. Also, even at best glass is not a good road surface and if you try to get a good road surface you lose the transparency that is absolutely needed for the solar panels. There is no way that solar freaking roads can work. Here’s some videos.
Thunderf00t has yet another video.
And some head palming from Dave Jones at EEVBlog.
Frankly I’ve never seen a bigger fail. Most of it is the execution, which is so bad that it beggars the mind. In a demo project execution is critical and apparently no consideration was given to weather and electrical devises that have to be sealed or weather will destroy them. Which it has.
Dave Jones at the EEVBlog YouTube Channel has an entire series where he works out the numbers for this marvel. Dave is a solar advocate and he makes it abundantly clear that the entire idea is unworkable even if the execution were sound.
ThunderF00t has done videos along the same lines.
The fact is that green energy isn’t. The investments in the infrastructure required and the low capacity factors mean that any renewable energy project has huge sunk costs that the energy collected from them can never recover.
Every country that has bought in to green energy in a large scale manner has regretted it. yet the romantic vision refuses to die. Somehow the idea of something that apparently getting something for nothing is so attractive that people cannot let go.