America Might Be Getting These Cool Solar-Powered Tiles On Their Roads

Submitted by: 5cats 2 weeks ago Tech

With 4.9 million in funding, about half from supporters though various crowd fundings, a plaza in Sandpoint, Idaho has been paved with 30 "road tiles" to power a nearby restroom and fountain. Nice idea, eh?

At $10,000 per panel, it would cost about $50 trillion to pave all of America's roads... just the panels, installation not included... probably another $150 trillion, more or less. You can monitor the daily power production here.

Wait... Un oh, the tiles produce under 1 kwh per day, in total. Enough to power the average microwave or hair dryer for a day. Far from what was hoped for. Well short of a single light or the restroom's power needs, but it'll get better as the sun moves north... maybe.

The tiles get some valid criticism though. I'm all for research, and I'm glad taxpayers are only "on the hook" for half of this (it seems) but even then, the project seems doomed from the start. Idaho = snow, trees, north. Not the best place, but typical of much of America. If it had succeeded there? It would likely have worked almost anywhere! (Except Alaska.)



There are 27 comments:
Male 114
i remember seeing these things full of water after the first few were tested
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Male 14,791
Idaho has the lowest cost of power in America, at around 8 cents per kWh.

These tiles could never beat that. In a year, a $10,000 tile would generate $29.2 dollars worth of electricity. Assuming absolutely no maintenance, failures tax or any other overhead, the payback period is 342 years and as somebody said, these tiles will probably only last six months making a total loss of $9,985.4. Put another way, it's $54.79 dollars per kWh in capital costs alone.

Alternatively:

Slave labour is much more efficient than solar. In Idaho, many farms use quasi-slave labour to pick potatoes. Labour is mandatory for all able-bodied prisoners. The minimum UNICOR wage is $0.23 per hour, and assuming an exercise bike can generate 100W, that makes a cost of only 23 cents per kWh over a 10 hour shift. The bike costs a negligible $100. The human hamster wheel beats the pants off solar tiles.

But wait, there's MORE!

Free people are even cheaper. Idaho's minimum wage for people who are not state slaves is $7.25 per hour, but unemployment pays up to $410 per week, equivalent to $8.54 divided by a 48 hour working week. That means we would save a nett $17.9 in labour and generate a further 8 cents in power per day! TREMENDOUS PROFITS. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.





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Male 37,248
Draculya You are blaming Trump for those things? Really now...
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Male 267
5cats Come on, that's funny, right? He's not after your sugar daddy, just a laugh.
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Male 7,629
5cats Forget trying to reason with him, his simple use of the term 'State Slaves' show's his ignorance.
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Male 128
The thing about testing is to find out what something can and cannot do also possibly what it might or might not do. Do you know what the first computers were like? The first gasoline engines? Did you know some of the first cars were electric and most didn't have brakes?  We test to learn and as we learn we can do more and build better.
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Male 37,248
taxidriver I know, but as neat an idea as this is? It seems decades away from even being remotely practical eh?
That's why I'm glad that voluntary funding, not gov't handouts, is a good chunk of the funding... so far.

How many gov't subsidies went into the gasoline engine? Zero. Same for almost every great invention or development in history. Of course gov't spending is required for many things, no question! Not many 'private bridges' out there, eh? ;-)
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Male 267
Don't work, never gonna happen. And we have yet ANOTHER contestant for dumbest idea of how the futures gonna work. You know why we use rock? Cuz it's cheap. Bitchumen? Cheap. You know what's not cheap? Coating half the nation in tempered, wear resistant glass. Let's forget the facts that, stopping distances will be drastically reduced with the absence of friction, they don't produce enough light to be seen during the day, it's feasibly impossible to produce this many, they aren't optimally efficient with respect to solar energy (as they aren't always perpendicular to the incoming sun), they are going to scratch, they are going to fail, they are going to be covered by cars and blocked in by roadworks (further limiting solar exposure), every installation they've produced so far has failed to produce any net energy, every installation they've produced so far has had a failure rate >50% within 6 months, the largest installation ever attempted has only been on the hundreds of feet (no cars could even drive on it). 
Morons on fundmyshit sites and in local governments have been jizzing millions all over these fewls, and they've nothing to show for it.
Know why? It was a stupid fucking idea to begin with.
Concrete. A renewable resource. Asphalt. An entirely renewable resource. Stupid intricate tiles with myriad plastics and electrical components. A nightmare to even renew slightly.
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Male 7,629
thething911 It's a feasibility study.  It may sound 'stupid', but some great things can come from what some people consider 'stupid' ideas.

Yes, these tiles are expensive, don't produce a lot and require a lot of maintenance.  Now, go look at Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot' fardier à vapeur, it could be described the same way, but was a precursor to the modern automobile.

Over time the design could be improved, and cost could come down.  Will it? Probably not. But that's not a reason not to research it.
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Male 267
megrendel Pouring millions of dollars in to something that won't work, instead of pouring millions of dollars in to something that might work? It matters where you put the money. 
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Male 37,248
thething911 That's how research works dude! Not every plan is successful and sometimes field trials (like this is) are the best way to improve the product.

At least the taxpayers are only paying around half the bill, that's very positive I think.
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Male 7,629
thething911 I don't agree that it absolutely 'wont' work.  There might be some valid tech that comes of this research.  While the federal funds used on this are limited (as they should be), I have no problem with private funding pursuing it.  I'd like to see what comes of it.
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Male 2,085
megrendel I concur completely. All it would take is one 12-year-old kid with a Tesla-like brain looking at these things and having an inspiration: "Yeah, that's interesting but they're missing something. What if you did it like this?"
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Male 267
squrlz4ever I don't think you guys are getting it. There is currently ~200 billion square meters of road surface on earth. We make them out of what me make them out of because it's the only think we could possibly have enough of. We simply can't manufacture anything on a large enough scale to cover any even meagerly appreciable amount of the earth. This is as stupid as thinking you're gonna replace concrete. And, my god in heaven, it's the two 'conservatives' telling me we should be liberal amount where we send taxpayer money? Excuse me? If you think this is ever gonna happen, you simply don't understand the scale of the problem involved. Billions of square meters, B, b, billions. Even if you're gonna give them a chance, which they have had, as I pointed out, they'd failed in every single conceivable regard. Go check out the actual outcomes of their work so far. Actually check before you say something else, because it's a laughable shambles. And don't give me this air-fairy, well, what if some genius comes along and solves all their problems. Because you can do that to anything squrlz. Global warming, pfffff. No problem, All it would take is one 12-year-old kid with a Tesla-like brain looking at these things and having an inspiration. Right? No. And a fluke of millions is never something you ought to be betting on anyways.
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Male 2,085
thething911 O.O Wait a minute. Did you just call me a conservative?! Seriously?

Megrendel: Grendel, whats-his-name here just called me--holds sides--OMG, this is killing me--whats-his-name-without-an-avatar just called me--OMG, I can't stop laughing--called me a conservative.

Can you please set him straight for me?
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Male 267
squrlz4ever I said two conservatives. That meaning 5cats and grendel. Please read more carefully.
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Male 2,085
thething911 Oh. Well, thank goodness. I can tolerate pretty much anything on here, other than being called a conservative. Right. Carry on then!
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Male 1,904
thething911 When i saw this a year ago my thoughts were along the same line.
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Male 37,248
thething911 It's a great idea... like flying cars or "Skynet" O_o But completely impractical for our lifetimes I'm thinking...
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Male 5,615
"the tiles produce under 1 kwh per day, in total. Enough to power the average microwave or hair dryer for a day."

You misunderstood that. kwh is Kilo Watt Hours. 120V microwave uses about 1200 Watts of power.

1kwh per day is 'One day of collection for less than an hour of operation of a microwave oven.'
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Male 37,248
CodeJockey I rarely use my microwave for more than an hour a day, eh? I think that's what they mean. 
It's just a very tiny amount, science fair projects often generate more :-p
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Male 5,615
5cats Even if it could perform at that rate, it would not be enough to power the blower in a public restroom.
It would waste most of the energy in heat dissipation.

The idea is good but, combined with what's needed to power the LED's, it doesn't generate enough power to be grid-independent without
- a significant breakthrough in energy collectors
- minor breakthrough in glass or whatever material they discover they'll have to migrate to (probably a translucent polymer)(has to be strong enough to support a truck carrying a tank)
- a power storage medium.

They need some fallback positions to make this a sound operation.
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Male 37,248
Nice that fancy found that video :-)
Interesting stuff, eh?
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Male 29
I remember seeing something about this a couple years ago, didn't seem worth it then and still doesn't seem all that worth it, plus if people get into it and start messing with the code who knows what can happen, like strobe lights giving drivers seizures
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Male 2,422
Insert Tommy Lee Jones "Implied Faceplam" meme here------------------------------>
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Male 313
$300,000 to produce a kilowatt, max (under ideal conditions)?  That seems incredibly expensive AND it'll take for fucking ever to pay itself off, especially when you throw in maintenance costs which I'm sure aren't cheap either ... unless I'm missing something, here.
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Male 37,248
irk Nope, that's really the situation. Be sure to chech the 'valid criticism' link. Brief, with further links.

It will improve in the summertime of course, but the 1 kwh is not a 'one time low' it is the daily average so far...
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