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Crowdfunded Solar Powered Highways Are Actually Happening

This week, a crowdfunding campaign saw over $2.2m raised for Route 66. It's happening.
By Marissa Ciampi
July 01, 2016
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Crowdfunded Solar Powered Highways Are Actually Happening

This week, a crowdfunding campaign saw over $2.2m raised for Route 66. It's happening.
By Marissa Ciampi
July 01, 2016
  shares

A stretch of the iconic Route 66 in Missouri is getting a major upgrade — and an environmental one at that. As part of its 'Road to Tomorrow' initiative, Missouri's Department of Transportation is joining forces with an Idaho-based startup called Solar Roadways to repave with state-of-the-art solar panels.

These specially engineered panels are made of tempered safety glass and are super strong — as they'd have to be to sustain constant use by heavy vehicles. Apart from the whole 'harnessing the power of the sun' bit, the panels also come with LED lighting, which can efficiently replace road lines and signage. Basically, they're a badass piece of technology.

solar-roadways

The installation will no doubt be pricey, but Solar Roadways is prepared for it — the group raised more than $2.2 million through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. In addition to these funds, initiative leader Tom Blair received a $100,000 prototype grant from the Federal Highway Administration and two $750,000 research grants from the US Department of Transportation. Yep, that's federal funding for solar.

The other good news is that their modular design allows for easy and cheap repairs by just swapping out broken panels for new ones. These bad boys are sustainable, ethical and eco-friendly — a seriously awesome invention that we hope to see more of on our own highways.

Missouri may not be the first to experiment with solar roads — we wrote about the possibility of a crowdfunding campaign to pave American parking lots with the things back in 2014 and the recent plans to create solar roads in France earlier this year — but it sounds like Route 66 will be the first of its kind to actual get to the finish line. The Solar Roadways panels are expected to be completed by the end of 2016. This achievement is, almost inconceivably, awesome and hopefully will pave the way for the rest of us.

Images: Solar Roadways.

Published on July 01, 2016 by Marissa Ciampi

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