A few years ago, Scott and I were watching David Letterman. In a rare moment, Dave became serious. He began talking about how he had just bought an electric vehicle and was upset to learn that it might not help the planet as much as he had hoped it would. He (like many of us) was under the assumption that EVs eliminated any harm to the environment. But then he found out that when he charged his new car, he was still charging it with fossil fuels. He talked about how frustrated he was and wondered aloud how much he was really helping the planet?
Scott and I looked at each other and said, “Solar Roadways® can solve that problem!” We wished we had a way to contact Dave and let him know!
Perhaps the best way to explain is to go back briefly to the beginning of our journey: When we had the idea for Solar Roadways®, we quickly realized how many problems could be solved. One of the most important ramifications of SR adoption on a grand scale would be to help end our dependence on fossil fuels, and replace it with a model for true sustainability. We spent some time gathering data and doing calculations. You can read those numbers here, but for those that want a quick summary: If SR covered all of the roads, parking lots, driveways etc. in the U.S., we could produce more than 3 times the electricity we use, and eliminate about half of the greenhouse gas emissions.
If all of us switched from cars with internal combustion engines to electric vehicles (EVs), we could eliminate about another 25% of those emissions. So if we want to stop producing the greenhouse gases which are leading to Climate Change, transitioning to EVs is important.
In 2011, President Obama optimistically predicted that by 2015 there would be a million EVs on the road. But we didn’t make it. By all accounts, EV sales represent less than1% of the new car market shares in the U.S. Why is that transition moving so slowly?
Unplugged writes, “Today electric vehicles (EV) are having a hard time being accepted by the customer and diffusing in the market.” They point to is “range anxiety” as a major reason. EVs have to continually find a place to charge. EV batteries have to be charged often, and although chargers are becoming more commonplace, the charging process itself is time consuming and inconvenient.
But what if SR could help solve this range anxiety and enable charging with clean energy? What if EV owners could charge their EVs while they drive? And what if that energy came -not from fossil fuels, but from clean sunshine?
This year, we began talks with a consortium in Utah (http://select.usu.edu/) who are working on the technology for dynamic charging of EVs (charging while they drive). They tell us that if just interstates alone which account for 2% of roads offered this service, it would take care of 98% of the miles EVs travel.
But integrating such technology into a standard road would be difficult. Solar Roadways® panels create an electric road with the needed electricity and all of the cabling and connections to facilitate the implementation of this technology. Their mutual induction plates could be fitted right into a Solar Roadway®. To that end, we are looking for a shared grant to enable research and development of this collaboration. We’d like to create a shared demonstration at their ¼-mile track to show what the marriage of these two technologies would offer to the EV industry and of course… our fragile planet.
The first step for SR is to offer static charging with clean energy. That can be done on driveways, in parking lots etc. Already, we will have addressed Dave’s concern. But we want to do more. We envision a world where we all just hop into our EVs and take a road trip without worrying about charging – and without worrying about where the energy comes from.
So Solar Roadways + Dynamic EV charging = A Whole New Ballgame.
(And we still want to talk to Dave!)