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Nature has provided bountiful resources surrounding us for sustenance of a
better life. These resources, along with manpower and capital, play a crucial role for
expansion to national output. However, the advancement of modern civilization has
had a great impact on our planet's natural resources. Therefore sustainable solutions
are a requirement for modern design problems due to societys overreliance on
natural resources. Thus innovative ideas which focus on sustainability must be
considered as a key priority for design and optimization.
One of the primary solutions for this problem is the increase in use of
renewable energy resources. Different types of renewable energy resources are
solar, wind, ocean and geothermal energy. Among these, solar energy is the only
resource which is abundantly available and evenly distributed worldwide. Hence
developing technologies to capture this solar energy is the need of the hour.
In order to overcome the relatively low efficiency of the solar panels,
significantly large amount of open spaces are required for the production of
electricity in the photovoltaic solar panel applications. Since availability of large open
spaces is on the decline near the urban areas, the solar panels can only be installed
in remote areas. But this can lead to huge energy losses. The low efficiency of the
solar panels as well as the necessity to deal with the transmission losses makes the
use of solar panels a non-viable economical option to produce electricity. In order to
make the solar power a viable economical option, open spaces that are situated
close to the high energy demand areas must be identified. Hence, it is proposed that
open spaces such as the roads, parking lots, bicycle lanes, footpaths etc. be utilized
for this purpose. In order to use these open spaces for producing electricity using
solar panels, recently, the concept of solar roadways have been introduced.
The Solar Roadway is a series of structurally-engineered solar panels that are
driven upon. It would utilize the use of roads that would be covered by photovoltaic
panels. The idea is to replace all current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking
lots, and driveways with Solar Road Panels that collect energy to be used by our
homes and businesses. . The ultimate goal is to store excess energy in or along-side
the Solar Roadways.
Through the issues associated with urban heat islands it is known that
pavements are often exposed to a vast amount of solar radiation throughout the day.
If it was possible to convert a portion of this energy to usable forms, civil and
infrastructure issues could be solved simultaneously. Two methods have already
been developed to generate energy from roads, using asphalt pavement as a solar
thermal collector and installing piezoelectric generators to collect vibration energy
from the traffic load on the pavement. Recent studies have also begun to use
thermoelectric systems to extract heat energy from roads and directly convert it to
electricity. This project is taking a different approach to the concept as, through
photovoltaics. Radiation is directly converted into electricity on the surface of the
panel without a heat or vibration conversion.


A solar roadway is a road surface that generates electricity by solar power
photovoltaic cells. It consists of structurally engineered solar panels that we drive on.
Each Solar Road Panel (roughly 12 by 12) interlinks with neighbouring panels to
form the Solar Roadways system. The Solar Roadway replaces our crumbling
petroleum-based asphalt highway infrastructure with an intelligent road that pays for
itself through the generation of electricity. The Solar Roadway generates electrical
power from the sun and becomes our nations decentralized, intelligent, self-healing
power grid, replacing our current deteriorating power distribution infrastructure.
The Solar Roadway distributes its electrical power to all businesses and
homes connected to the system via their parking lots and driveways (made up of
Solar Road Panels). In addition to electrical power, data signals (cable TV, high-
speed internet, telephone, etc.) also travel through the Solar Roadways, which acts
as a conduit for these signals (cables). This feature eliminates the unsightly power
lines, utility poles, and relay stations we see all over the countryside. It also
eliminates power interruption caused by fallen or broken electrical lines or poles.

Fig 1.1: Solar roadways

The main philosophy of solar roadways is to convert solar energy into
electrical energy by the principle of photovoltaics. Photovoltaics (PV) is a method of
generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity
using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic power
generation employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells containing a
photovoltaic material.
To understand how photovoltaic operate, the nature of sunlight has to be
understood. The structure of all type of light consists of electromagnetic radiation
which is similar to micro and radio waves. When an electromagnetic radiation
becomes incident on a semiconductor material (p-n junction), the photons are
absorbed by the material and electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the
semiconductor material. If electrical conductors are attached to the positive and
negative sides, forming an electrical circuit, the electrons can be captured in the form
of an electric current, that is, electricity. This electricity can then be used to power a
load, such as a light or a tool.


A solar roadway is a series of structurally engineered solar panels that are
driven upon. The idea is to replace current petroleum-based asphalt roads, parking
lots, and driveways with solar road panels that collect energy to be used by homes
and businesses, and ultimately to be able to store excess energy in or alongside the
solar roadways. The renewable energy generated by solar road panels will replace
the current need for fossil fuel, which in turn reduces the greenhouse gases.
Parking lots, driveways, and eventually highways are all targets for the
panels. If the entire United States Interstate Highway system were surfaced with
Solar Roadways panels, it would produce more than three times the amount of
electricity currently used nationwide.
Existing prototype panels consist of three layers.
Road surface layer - translucent and high-strength, textured glass, that is
rough enough to provide sufficient traction, yet still passes sunlight through to the
solar collector cells embedded within, along with LEDs and a heating element. This
layer needs to be capable of handling today's heaviest loads under the worst of
conditions and to be weatherproof, to protect the electronics layer beneath it.
Electronics layer/Optical layer - It transmits the load around the solar cells. It
contains a microprocessor board with support circuitry for sensing loads on the
surface and controlling a heating element with a view to reducing or eliminating snow
and ice removal as well as school and business closings due to inclement weather.
The microprocessor controls lighting, communications, monitoring, etc. With a
communications device every 3.66m (12 feet), a solar roadway can be an intelligent
highway system.
Base plate layer - While the electronics layer collects energy from the sun, it is
the base plate layer that distributes that power as well as data signals (phone, TV,
internet, etc.) down the line to all homes and businesses connected to the solar
roadway. It has to transmit the load to a pavement, subgrade, or base structure. It
needs to be weatherproof to protect the electronics layer below it.

Fig 2.1: Exploded view of a conceptual solar road panel


When multiple Solar Road Panels are interconnected, the intelligent Solar
Roadway is formed. These panels replace current driveways, parking lots, and all
road systems, be they interstate highways, state routes, downtown streets,
residential streets, or even plain dirt or gravel country roads. Panels can also be
used in amusement parks, raceways, bike paths, parking garage rooftops, remote
military locations, etc. Any home or business connected to the Solar Roadway (via a
Solar Road Panel driveway or parking lot) receives the power and data signals that
the Solar Roadway provides. The Solar Roadway becomes an intelligent, self-
healing, decentralized (secure) power grid.

The structural design requirements for a solar road panel are as follows:
The structure must be able to support the cyclic distributed load from vehicle tires
without failing through deformation, fracture.

The transparent layer cannot deflect over the cell compartments so much that the
layer transmits load to the solar cells.

The structure must be corrosion resistant to potential contaminants.

The design must be modular and facilitate easy maintenance.

For this prototype's purposes, the panel must be made out of readily available
components and materials.

The weight of the panel must be low enough such that it can be easily maneuvered
for testing and installation purposes.


The electrical design requirements for a solar road panel are as follows:

The panel should be designed so that no shading of the solar cells occurs.
The interconnection between the cells should be strong enough to withstand
potential deflections from the optical layer.
The panel must be weatherproof so that water and other contaminants are not able
to interfere with the electronics.
There must be a diode installed on the output electrical line of the panel to block
reverse currents, as this would damage the solar cells within the panel.

In The University of Western Ontario, the design of the panel was done by
COMSOL Multiphysics, an engineering simulation software. COMSOL Multiphysics
which has both the modeling and simulation capabilities for Multiphysics systems
was used to ascertain the feasibility for different vehicular applications and for
suggesting future material The model created in the COMSOL Multiphysics for the
analysis purpose consists of a vertically hollow square base layer with sides 4
meters in length, 0.5 meter in height and 0.1 meter in thickness..The base layer is
considered to be made up of concrete, and covered with a transparent cover of size
4 m and thickness 0.01 m made up of acrylic plastic, whose material properties are
given in Table 1. The acrylic sheets have a working temperature range of -40C up to
93C, and the elastic properties are assumed to remain constant in this temperature

Table 5.1: Material properties for Acrylic plastic and Concrete


As the solar roadways panels are to be laid over the existing roads, the
primary loads acting on the solar roadways panels are the vehicle loads. For the
analysis, the loads associated with the vehicles are selected based on the
specification from American Association of State Highways and Transportation
Officials (AASHTO). Two types of loadings, H loading and HS loading are given by
AASHTO. H loading consists of a two axle truck and HS loading consists of a tractor
truck with semi-trailer. In general, there are four standard classes of highway loading
conditions, namely H15, H20, HS15 and HS20. The number following the H and HS
letter denotes the gross weight in tons of a standard truck. The HS20 standard truck
load, a maximum stress of 1.82x103Mpa is much higher when compared to the
ultimate tensile strength of 69Mpa and the displacement results indicate that
maximum surface displacement was also very high at 1.12 meters. Hence it can be
concluded that the selected top cover material is not suitable for the applied load and
this cannot be used as a top cover for solar roadways panel, where vehicles of size
similar to a truck are moving over it.
As the selected material failed for the load of a truck, in order to test the
maximum load the material selected for the top cover of solar roadways panel can
take on, stress and displacements due to a car, bicycle and a motorbike load moving
over the solar panel were analyzed. The specifications of the vehicles are given in
table 2.According to standard specifications and code of practice for road bridges
(IRC: 6- 2000), the car and the motorbike belongs to Class A loading and bicycle
belongs to Class B loading.

Table 5.2: Specifications of car, motorbike and bicycle used in the



The size of selected base layer was 1.5 m x 0.2 m x 0.1 m, covered by a
transparent top cover of size 1.5 meters and with a thickness of 10 mm. It was found
that the total weight of the bicycle, 90.7kg (including weight of the bicycle and person
travelling on it) caused a stress of 20.67MPa, which is quite low when compared to
the ultimate tensile strength of 69MPa. The maximum surface displacement was
2.05mm, which is well below the AASHTO design standard. Whereas in the analysis
motorbike and car it was found that if the youngs modulus is increased from
50.8x109 to 50.8x1010 Pa, a thickness of 15mm and 25.4mm was suitable for both
vehicles respectively.

When a solar panel exposed to sunlight , the light energies are absorbed by a
semi conduction materials.
Due to this adsorbed energy, the electrons are liberated and produce the external DC
The DC current is converted into 240-volt AC current using an inverter for different

First, the sunlight is absorbed by a solar cell in a solar panel.
The absorbed light causes electrons in the material to increase in energy. At the
same time making them free to move around in the material.
However, the electrons remain at this higher energy for only a short time before
returning to their original lower energy position.
Therefore, to collect the carriers before they lose the energy gained from the
light, a PN junction is typically used.
A PN junction consists of two different regions of a semiconductor material (usually
silicon), with one side called the p type region and the other the n-type region.
During the incident of light energy, in p-type material, electrons can gain energy
and move into the n-type region.
Then they can no longer go back to their original low energy position and remain at
a higher energy.
The process of moving a light- generated carrier from p-type region to n-type region
is called collection.
These collections of carriers (electrons) can be either extracted from the device to
give a current, or it can remain in the device and gives rise to a voltage.
The electrons that leave the solar cell as current give up their energy to whatever
is connected to the solar cell, and then re-enter the solar cell. Once back in
the solar cell, the process begins again.



Unlike the dark roads we drive on by night today, the Solar Roadways will
have LEDs which will "paint" the lanes, and can be instantly customized as needed.
The LEDs could be utilized to create messages on the roads to warn drivers of
detours, accidents, or construction works up ahead. With an illuminated highway,
accidents will be reduced and night time driving will be safer.

Fig 8.1: Solar roadway with pavement markings



A benefit to the use of solar roadways is that the de-icing of roads will not be
required; this is due to panels being capable of self heating, and the glass
incorporating the same heating elements of a cars rear screen. The panels will have
sensors which will determine when the temperature falls below a certain point and
will activate the heating system which will prevent the buildup of snow and ice. Thus
eliminates the use of deicing salts and the impacts that arise due to their use such
as, contaminated surface runoff and rusting of road structures and vehicles.


Each Solar Road Panel contains a microprocessor that monitors and controls
the panel, while communicating with neighboring panels and the vehicles traveling
overhead. The dashed road lines that are seen on highways can travel alongside at
the designated speed limit, thus helping us to maintain proper speed. The road can
warn about traffic congestions ahead and even recommend detours around it. It can
even notify law enforcement to assist in tracking down stolen vehicles or
suspects cars equipped with GPS tracking devices. Crosswalk panels can alert
drivers when pedestrians are on the crosswalk. Once the crosswalk panels detect a
pedestrian, the LEDs within the crosswalk begin flashing and a warning is displayed
in front of oncoming vehicles. Wildlife protection system works in the same way. If a
vehicle crosses the center line too many times within a given distance, a ring of
LEDs can be drawn around the vehicle, which will travel with it indefinitely. This will
warn other drivers of a potential danger and will alert law enforcement officials of a
potential problem. The Solar Roadways could drastically reduce the number of
deaths/injuries caused by impaired driving. It can save electricity by turning on
roadway lighting in remote areas only when a vehicle comes along.

Fig 8.2: Pedestrian warning system Fig 8.3: Wildlife protection

system (

8.4 NATIONAL SECURITY Trucks with hazardous materials can be tracked and
monitored. Suspected terrorist's vehicles can be tracked. Public buses and school
buses can be tracked. These vehicles can be fitted with controls to shut down their
engines and/or apply their brakes.
Businesses will be able to have solar parking lots, which will enable them to
quickly go off grid as well as offer their customers the convenience of allowing their
electric vehicles to recharge while they are shopping, eating, working etc. They will
no longer have the expense of snow removal. Their parking lots will be safer at night
with the light provided by the LED's. Walkways can be replaced with similar solar
panels, enabling more energy collection, and the safety features like lighting and
heating. A solar driveway will have many features, including LED lit address markers
and the ability to add customized wording, such as "Happy Birthday Heather!" or
"Wedding reception here. The driveway will also become an instantly customizable
sports court. One minute, teenagers can be playing basketball and, at the touch of a
button, the younger children can play Four Square or Hopscotch or any other game
that the homeowner would like to configure. Pool surrounds and courtyards will be
another ideal application for homeowners.

Fig 8.4: Sports court created from solar roadways



The solar roadways can be supplemented by solar-powered led roadway
lighting system. Highly efficient, long lasting, environmentally friendly and
controllable LEDs have opened up a whole new world of possibilities for lighting. In
some remote areas where the grid power cannot reach, solar powered lighting using
high-power LED provides a promising solution. LED will reduce the power
consumption as well as LLP (loss of load power) and thus is the best choice for solar
roadway lighting. A new pilot project by Philips and the Kenyan Urban Roads
Authority to install solar-powered LED street lighting in Nairobi has the potential to
generate up to 100 per cent energy savings, if implemented on a wide scale across
the country. The key to the breakthrough lies in the combination of new High
Brightness LEDs with unique patented optics and an intelligent controller which lies
at the heart of the solution.
Fig 8.5: Diagram showing the working of solar road
lighting (


Solar traffic lights are signaling devices powered by solar panels positioned at
road intersections, pedestrian crossings and other locations to control the flows of
traffic.The electricity generated by the solar roadways can be used to function the
traffic lights.


LEDs can be embedded in standard highway warning and regulatory signs to
outline either the sign itself or the words and symbols on the sign.. In general,
embedded LED units are used to:
Improve driver compliance with regulatory signs through improved conspicuity; and
Enhance visibility and recognition of regulatory and warning signs to drivers,
especially under low-light or low-visibility conditions. Solar roadways can be used to
power these equipments

Fig 8.6: (a) solar powered road sign (b) solar powered traffic light


Bituminous roads are those roads in which some binding material such as
bitumen, coal-tar or asphalt is used in surfacing. Such roads are also known as black
top roads. The following are the various types of bituminous surfaces:
1) Surface painting or surface dressing
2) Bituminous macadam
3) Bituminous concrete
4) Sheet asphalt or asphaltic mat
Traditional roads are chiefly composed of aggregates and a binding material
whereas solar roadways are made of glass, solar cells and concrete. Bituminous
materials or asphalts are extensively used for roadway construction, primarily
because of their excellent binding characteristics and water proofing properties and
relatively low cost. Despite the benefits there are also numerous drawbacks such as
brittleness at low temperatures, softness at high temperatures and environmental
issues such as high energy demand and pollution due to its production.
Asphalt works, in many ways, and is convenient to lay-down, compared to
other methods. It has carried our automotive infrastructure into the 21st century. But
there are hidden costs that are making it increasingly difficult and expensive to
continue favoring asphalt as the predominant road-paving model for the entire
nation. Thats why asphalt is not ideal for road construction. Bitumen roads have a
design life of 10 to 20 years and require resurfacing every seven years
approximately, whereas solar roadways have a design life of twenty one years.
Solar Roadways can pay dividends for the public budget, making our
spending on infrastructure more efficient and significantly reducing electricity costs to
consumers and businesses. They can make the emerging electric vehicle economy
far more affordable, and easier to manage. They can help us eliminate hundreds of
billions of dollars per year, or more, in externalized costs of burning fossil fuels. And,
we can lead the world in powerful clean energy technology exports, capable of rolling
back massive pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Road construction and expansion have major environmental impacts. The
environmental impact of road projects include damage to sensitive ecosystem,
permanent disruption to local economic activities ,demographic change, accelerated
urbanization and the introduction of diseases due to pollutants. In addition, there are
also the emissions which are released in the various stages of construction process.
The amount of greenhouse gases released directly and indirectly by an individual,
organization or event is known as carbon footprint. The road carbon footprint exists
as bitumen requires extracting, refining and transportation to the location in order
construct the road, with the addition of the maintenance and repair energy
requirements later in the life of the road. Vicroads a company based in the state of
Victoria, Australia, recently carried out a project to determine the carbon footprint of
road construction. The company duplicated the Mickleham Road, the road was
2.4km long and consisted of 4 lanes, and they also carried out maintenance work for
the project which included installation of new traffic signals, street lighting and
drainage. On the completion of the project it was determined that a total of 1,820
tonnes of green house gases were released. From the data collected it was
determined that 190 tonnes of CO2/km/lane was emitted for the project. To offset the
emissions released for the total project required the planting of approximately 7,500
As solar roadways will not be constructed by the use of bituminous materials it
will reduce the use of fossil fuels, as mentioned previously the obtaining and
applying of bitumen causes damage and releases emissions into the environment.
The main environmental impacts that arise due to the solar roadways are the
pollution which is generated during their manufacturing of the road sections, but this
is offset by the panels ability to recoup it by the solar energy transfer into electrical
The production of the glass surface panels consumes a lot of energy as the
main materials in the production of glass require them to be melted to high
temperatures reaching 1500C, although this is a high temperature an additive has
been added to lower the temperature. In the UK the lifecycle CO 2 emissions for a
photovoltaic system is 58g CO2eq/kWH. The same system if installed in southern
Europe, Spain would have lifecycle CO 2 emissions of 35g CO2eq/kWH the decrease
is due to their being more sunlight present which means greater operating hours.
A benefit to the use of solar roadways is that the de-icing of roads will not be
required. One of the impacts associated with bitumen roads is the use of de-icing
salts. There are numerous varieties of de-icing salts which are used on our roads;
calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride and sodium chloride. De-
icing salts used by countries for winter road protection accumulates to 51% of the
worlds output of salt.
The use of salts has many effects on the environment, damage occurs to
vegetation, water, roads, road structures and vehicles. As salt is very soluble it will
dissolve with water, and this is the major problem when water seeps into the ground
or water courses where it alters the properties of the water. The chloride ions present
in the salt then raise the chloride concentrations of the streams, lakes, soils and
groundwater sources causing them to have adverse effects on the aquatic plants
and land. The use of salts also increases deterioration rate in roads and structures
as the chloride ions react with the reinforcements and cause rust to form and leads
to corrosion.
One of the major drawbacks in the use of bitumen is the failure of road
surfaces due to water infiltration into the layers of the road. The deterioration rate
increases due to the environmental factors of freeze and thaw. With solar roadways
the surface will be 100% water proof and this will prevent the penetration of water
into the lower layers. Thus the solar roadways will require lesser maintenance.
Moreover in order to carryout necessary repairs and installations of underground
utilities, excavation of the roads is required. Since solar roadways consists of panel
sections, if the utilities require repair or replacement the road can be cordoned off in
sections without excavation of soil or road layers. This will therefore lead to faster
installation and repair process time.
Another advantage of solar roadways is the micro texture of the surface unlike
the bitumen roads where the aggregates lose their roughness (become smooth) due
to weathering and polishing effects due to traffic. The solar roadways surface will
experience these factors but as glass has high resistance to wear and tear, this
problem is less likely to affect solar roadways.
The panels will get damaged and will not supply any electricity if subsidence
on road occurs .Subsidence is a major problem as it cannot be determined when it
will occur. Traditional roads are able to flex when subsidence occurs, but the solid
state of the solar roadways panel poses a problem. Another problem which will be
encountered in its implementation is the geometry of the road. Bitumen roads curve
naturally and smoothly in corners without any restriction whereas a solar roadway
consists of rigid structure and it may create problem in achieving the natural curve of
the road.


Renewability and life-span
The main advantage of the solar roadway concept is that it utilizes a
renewable source of energy to produce electricity. It has the potential to reduce
dependence on conventional sources of energy such as coal, petroleum and other
fossil fuels. Also, the life span of the solar panels is around 20 years, much greater
than normal asphalt roads, which only last 712 years.

Military and rescue assistance

In the event of an environmental disaster or military emergency, solar
roadways would provide power when it is needed most. As solar power is renewable,
it obviously requires no external connection to an artificial power source.

Roadways already in place

Another advantage of solar roadways is that they do not require the
development of unused and potentially environmentally sensitive lands. This is
currently a very controversial issue with large photovoltaic installations in the South
western US and other places. But since the roads are already there, this is not an
issue. Also, unlike large photovoltaic installations, new transmission corridors
perhaps across environmentally sensitive land would not be required to bring
power to consumers in urban areas. Transmission lines could simply be run along
already established roadways.

Lighting up of roads
By adding LEDs beneath the transparent panel, road can be lightened up for
safe night travel and aesthetic look.


Maintenance costs:
They are more because road surfaces accumulate rubber, salt, soil and other
substances that block sunlight and must be removed. The durability of the panels
may also be less, further increasing maintenance costs.

Seasonal efficiency:
In India the solar road will work efficiently in summer, while it will give
comparatively less efficiency in other seasons due to lack of solar radiations. Where
as in the countries where summer lasts for more than half of year this technique can
be efficiently used.

The need of the hour for an alternative energy source is increasing at an
alarming rate. We can't wait any longer to find a replacement for oil, which is rapidly
disappearing. The solar roadways if implemented can be a solution for all our energy
In developing countries the major part of the geographical area is to be
explored in terms of road connectivity. So instead of implementing the higher targets
roads to be developed per day such countries can reduce the target and develop
solar road so they could improve economy with infrastructure.
Generally the Solar Roadways will provide safer driving conditions, snow and
ice management, traffic management, wild life protection. It is compiled solar panels
which to replace ordinary asphalt street as it has better features. It is able to produce
electricity and heating elements. It is designed with LED lights which able to act as
traffic lines, road indicators, construction detours and streetlight for roadways. It
would be solar panel field, internet distribution system, and communication system in
the future. The reasons why solar roadways project is viable are to lessen fossil-fuel
dependency and reduce global warming activity. It also has some of its drawbacks
such as high cost, durability, and weather. However, we believe that we would able
to overcome those limitations eventually in order to serve the society with greater

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Economy, International Journal of Engineering Research and
Applications(IJERA), Vol. 3, Issue 3, pp.1429-1436, May-Jun 2013
2. Northmore, A., Tighe, S.,(2012), Innovative Pavement Design: Are Solar Roads
Feasible? 2012 Conference of the Transportation Association of Canada
Fredericton, New Brunswick
3. Rushing, S.T., Tingle.,S.J.,(2009), Full-scale evaluation of mat surfacings for
roads over sand subgrades Journal of Terramechanics, vol 46 (2009) 5763
4. Selvaraju, K.R.,(2012), Characterization of Solar Roadways via computational
and experimental investigations,

5. Symeoni, A.,(2012), A review on energy harvesting from roads,