Electrically smart roads supercharge safety and speed
An independent, technical and market appraisal of electrically smart roads and their allied infrastructure such as electrical road furniture and parking areas has been released by IDTechEx, entitled Electrically Smart Roads 2018-2028. It embraces such things as solar roads driving integral lighting today and the research to add harvesting of heat and movement by roads and electricity from roadside wind turbines, sensing, and structural health monitoring.
Bus shelters are already driving their advertising and lighting from their own solar power but the best is yet to come in enhanced safety, speed, saving, earning and air quality. IDTechEx reveals that adoption is rapid and widespread: examples discussed span 55 organisations and 37 technologies in 18 countries in this information-packed 105 page report replete with new analysis, statistics, graphs and infograms. In 2017, there were at least 110 solar road projects alone.
Electrically Smart Roads 2018-2028 has been written because this rapidly emerging activity is addressing increasingly significant needs such as better functionality, safety and security of road systems and vehicles while reducing overall costs to a community. The report is intended for those developing, making, installing and operating the smart materials, products, infrastructure and systems, the city planners and government, architects and academics seeking opportunities and names not equations.
Because the report embraces similar new technology being trialled and adopted near roads, electricity from roads, paths, parking surfaces and shelters is covered plus incorporation of traffic and road deicing/ snow removal, structural health monitoring and dynamic EV charging.
Electricity generation from roads, paths and parking areas using photovoltaics, electrodynamics, piezoelectrics and thermal technologies is being progressed. Ideally the structures replace asphalt. Some of the electricity produced could be stored then used to power pure electric vehicles when they stop - static inductive charging - or even when they are going along - dynamic inductive charging - and perform deicing and snow removal. Yes, off grid production of electricity by roads and their environs will make new things possible such as consistent, automated deicing and snow removal and ubiquitous electric vehicle charging. No one gets hurt because no one is involved.
Although these are more distant dreams because very high power is needed, probably needing road solar in conjunction with roadside wind turbines to create 100kW or more, they potentially provide huge benefits. In the US, between 1996-2011, over 12,000 deaths were caused by winter-related precipitation. The US spends $73bn yearly on operation and maintenance of highways, including for resurfacing needed because of current snow removal techniques. Drivers lose $23.4bn yearly in corrosion-related repair costs and depreciation linked to chemicals used to treat iced roadways. Smart US roads could save at least $5bn yearly from all this.
Solar roads of Solar Roadways in the USA already double as integral road surface light emission. IDTechEx suggests that could combine with the new Dutch invention of large hollow road surface blocks made of waste plastic that carry utility pipes and cables and last longer than asphalt. In its usual creative approach, IDTechEx offer many other possibilities too.
In this quest, urban zero emission electricity produced by roads, paths, parking areas, barriers and street furniture can exceed that produced by buildings. Off grid gives better protection from cost increases, terrorism and natural disasters. Electrically Smart Roads 2018-2028 is a drill down report from the overview of the whole off grid scene in IDTechEx report, Off-grid Zero-emission Electricity 2018-2038: New Markets, New Technology Roadmap. Other drill down reports from this include three covering respectively urban off grid, off grid electric vehicle charging and structural electronics.