An outfit called Solar Roadways wants to replace asphalt roads and parking lots with solar cells and claims this idea is practical based on the tests it has run so far. The company has received some SBIR money and has given a TEDx talk on the subject which is viewable on its web site.
But count me among those who have yet to be convinced, even after reading the FAQs the company put up meant to address critics of the idea. Unfortunately, the FAQs come off as a bit of a hand wave. Far more convincing is a YouTube video put up by a vocal critic:
Other media outlets have commented favorably on Solar Roadways' idea, but their dismissals of criticisms leveled so far don't inspire a lot of confidence among engineers who've been through a few development efforts "Ambitious, yes, but the Brusaws' small protoype — built as part of a contract with the Federal Highways Agency — is already generating electricity," breathlessly reported one source.
Of course, there is a bit of a difference between a small prototype generating electricity and a roadway able to hold up under 18-wheeler traffic for a few years.
Only one thing is likely to begin silencing skeptics on a thing like this: A functioning section of roadway built from the stuff that still works a year of so after it goes live.