I’m embarrassed to say I’m not connected to this issue. Is it reactionary?
Nice to hear from you again. I’ve seen the Solar Roadways project on several enviro-sites and it seems the media is eating it up. They even picked up an endorsement from Republican Senator Mike Crappo (R-ID), which I found most surprising:
Keep in mind, Solar Roadways started in 2009 with a $100k grant from the Dept. of Energy. Solar Roadways already had their day in the media spotlight back in 2010. The now-closed blog Infrastructurist panned the idea as "dubious" and "batshit crazy" based on a few thumbnail calculations using basic transportation engineering standards required to build roads.
Solar roads are and enviro-media darling, that’s for sure. My take is that there might be a few test roads built, but overall the idea is impossible at this point. It would cost tens of trillions of dollars to build at tax-payer expense. Dozens of policies, thousands of laws, and countless transportation and engineering standards would have to be rewritten (and pass congress). All 50 states would have to voluntarily change their transportation regulations. Not to mention the public objections, lobbyists, and litigation that would add decades of delays.
For those inspired by new technologies like solar roads, you have to answer the basic policy questions: What are the procedures to change transportation laws? How would you get congressional support? What does it take to change one rule (never mind hundreds of rules for solar roads) at your state’s DOT? Inspiration often times has to respond to, and outlast, very serious objections…