SAGLE, Idaho— The city of Sandpoint could be the first in the nation with solar roadways thanks to an Idaho inventor. However, the inventor behind the revolutionary idea needs help from the public.
An electrical engineer from Sagle wants to cover all 28,000 miles of U.S. roads and parking lots with solar panels. Energy from the panels would course into the nation's power grid. Because of that, Scott Brusaw said the system would pay for itself over time.
Brusaw’s goal was to cover all U.S. roads with solar panels that were strong enough to carry cars and stand up to harsh winters.
It is not magnificent mountains that command Brusaw’s adoration when he looks out of his Sagle window every morning. It is a 12-by-36 foot patch of innovation that thrills him.
"I come out every morning, get my cup of coffee, look out that window and I'm thrilled to death,” Brusaw said.
He said it is the first solar parking lot.
It is a small example of what Brusaw hopes will replace all roads and parking lots across the United States and beyond.
Brusaw’s solar roads would power the country with the sun. They would replace the usual inert asphalt people drive along every day.
"If we were to pave that we'd produce three times the amount of energy we use as a nation. That's almost enough to power the entire world,” he said.
Brusaw said the massive transportation overhaul would pay for itself.
Brusaw and his wife, Julie, have worked every day for years to trouble shoot and perfect their panels. Their work produced solar panels encased in glass. Brusaw said they even have the strength to support semi trucks. Testing showed the surface allows vehicles to stop quickly, even when wet.
Brusaw said his software and led lights would eliminate the need to paint lines on roads. The lines could be converted via computer. A heating element would make traditional snow removal obsolete.
“We've got people all over the world saying, ‘as soon as you say you're open for business we want to fly out there just so we can walk on it’,” Brusaw said.
Sandpoint Public Works Director Kody Van Dyk said he wants his city to be the first stop for solar roadways.
Van Dyk said he was applying for a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to fund a demonstration project in their downtown area.
"I'd like to do both a walking surface and a driving surface,” Van Dyk said.
The volume of work was outgrowing the Brusaw’s hands in April. They said they wanted to build a North Idaho manufacturing facility. They said they were launching an Earth Day fundraising effort through crowdfunding site indiegogo. The Brusaw’s said they hoped people who share their vision and love of the environment would donate to the dream.
"A lot of people want to help save the world. Make it a greener world,” Brusaw said.
The Brusaw’s said there is no reason the world cannot become greener.
“I think it will be a paradigm shift,” he said.
The Brusaw’s said numerous investors have approached them. They said they felt strongly about keeping their company private. They also said they wanted to ensure the creation of U.S. manufacturing facilities with U.S. workers.