There is a lot of skepticism coming out, and I might add that it is rightly so.
I understand the idea, and I was initially taken by it as well. I didn't donate to the fundraiser, however.
There are many glaring issues that I think they have, and they shrug off the criticism without really addressing the concerns. I've watched all the videos, and several from their critics. I don't think this entrepreneurial husband-wife team really have the expertise to pull this off yet.
They claim all this benefit and don't suggest even a rough cost per panel. They claim they haven't done those calculations yet and can't know until they're ready for mass production. Umm.... That's a big risk to throw more than $2 million at, and no business investor would believe that. If they wanted to know, they can do the math. They should do the math. Some critics have suggested possible costs of a couple hundred dollars PER panel. (EDIT: This is for smaller ones. Their blog posts claim that if they could achieve a $10,000 cost for a 12 foot by 12 foot panel, they would be doing well.)
For the heck of it, let's do a little guess-work math. I can count 18 rows of panels on their website that shows a small stretch of their "roadway" near a barn. Earch row is 5.5 panels, so there are 99 panels. Let's say that these miraculously only cost $100.00 each, an absurdly low estimate. That's almost $10,000, for a few hundred square feet, approximately. Asphalt pavement costs no more than a couple dollars per square foot.
Here are a few of my critical questions that I feel I haven't seen an acceptable answer to.
1. How do they plan to provide enough power in winter to melt snow from well below freezing when the panels will be covered with snow and thus NOT generating any power? I think their imaginations ran wild with that "feature." It takes a lot of energy to melt snow, and the little defrost strip from a car does not provide enough heat.
2. How is glass going to hold up, in the long-term, to maintain the amount of traction that they claim these panels have? If snow builds up, what is the risk that snow plows are going to chip away all the tempered surface of these panels? His blog shows a nice grid that says "Look, Glass is harder than asphalt!" Glass may be "harder" than asphalt on the Mohs scale that classifies minerals. However, the Solar Roadways team neglects the fact that glass is far more brittle and less elastic than asphalt. The elasticity of asphalt is what makes it such an ideal surface for roadways, as it can move with the ground beneath it.
3. Have they ever seen LEDs during the daytime? They claim, "Hey we'll use the high-powered ones like in new traffic lights!" Uh... Their problem is that traffic lights are hanging and are covered to provide shade over the light. Without that shading, traffic lights would be much harder to see further away. Their panels have lights aiming UP, not even toward the drivers on the road. What's more... you can't shade the whole dang highway system or the panels won't generate solar power.
4. How do these panels adjust for the decrease of energy production if partially shaded? If one portion of a solar panel is shaded, the whole panel suffers. If cars are constantly driving over these, or parked for long periods of time, what is the continued benefit? They claim to have "microinverters" that keep other panels around a shaded one from losing efficiency, but that still ignores the fact that cars sitting on your solar panel is drastically reducing its power-generating surface area.
I have a real problem with people that immediately counter criticism by claiming their critics are using false science and misleading information. This guy is the one that doesn't answer his questions straight...
I am a HUGE proponent of solar power and other alternative energy sources. However, I am not so sure that making our roadways into solar panels is going to be as effective as this entrepreneur claims.
India is going to start covering their canal systems with solar panels. THAT is a smart idea. It provides a lot of surface area and also shades the canals to reduce water loss from evaporation.