Solar Roadways – Biggest Indiegogo Scam Ever?

SR

Dr. Roy Spencer and I have been watching this project with amusement combined with incredulity. Somehow, this mom and pop operation have raised over $1.9 million on Indiegogo from gullible people who don’t have the skillset or decide to ignore basic physics, economics, and common sense in favor of future pipe dreams of green energy. This video that follows shows why their claim doesn’t make any sense, none at all. The best part? The impetus was for this idea was global warming. Here is what they say about the birth of “solar roadways”:

Years ago, when the phrase “Global Warming” began gaining popularity, we started batting around the idea of replacing asphalt and concrete surfaces with solar panels that could be driven upon. We thought of the “black box” on airplanes: We didn’t know what material that black box was made of, but it seemed to be able to protect sensitive electronics from the worst of airline crashes.

Suppose we made a section of road out of this material and housed solar cells to collect energy, which could pay for the cost of the panel, thereby creating a road that would pay for itself over time. What if we added LEDs to “paint” the road lines from beneath, lighting up the road for safer night time driving? What if we added a heating element in the surface (like the defrosting wire in the rear window of our cars) to prevent snow/ice accumulation in northern climates? The ideas and possibilities just continued to roll in and the Solar Roadway project was born.

Source: http://www.solarroadways.com/intro.shtml

Got that? Airplane black boxes to road surfaces logic, check. LED’s to guide cars down the road at night with optional Windex tankers ahead of you, check. Heating elements to melt snow and ice, but no cognizant idea of just how much power it takes to melt snow and ice versus the amount of power a dirty scuffed up solar cell will produce, check.

The most ridiculous parts of this idea don’t just include the unsuitability of solar tiles as a road surface (high friction surfaces and transparent optical surfaces are total opposites) and the ginormous production and maintenance costs involved, but also include the ill-considered support infrastructure requirements, the poor visibility of LED road lighting itself, and the short lifespan of materials involved.

All in all, it’s a colossal green tech train wreck, but these clowns may be laughing all the way to the bank, or they may be shysters, either way, there’s a sucker born every minute.

From the YouTube video description:

Well it basically proposes the union of 3 or 4 technologies. LED lights, solar panels, and glass roads.

Glass really isn’t a feasible material to make roads out of.

1) its too expensive. Just coating the US road system with roads would cost many times the federal budget.

2) Its too soft. Even with a textured surface for traction, it will wear away too quickly. Dirt on roads is basically small rocks, which are generally much harder than glass. Imagine taking a handful of dirt and rubbing it a window. Now imagine doing that with the wheels of a 20 ton tractor/trailer.

3) I have doubts about the physical properties of the glass to take the load and mechanical heat stress required of a road making material.

Solar panels under the road is a bad idea from the start. If they are under the roads, they are hard to maintain. They will have reduced light from parked cars etc. They are fragile. Not really congenial to the conditions you are likely to get on a road. In many ways building a shed over the road, or just having solar panels by the side of the road is a far better idea. However the power transport really isnt practical. One of the most efficient ways to transport electricity around is as high voltage AC. However to build those lines would probably double the cost of any construction. To bury the cables is even more expensive.

LEDs for variable road marking have been partially implemented. They are usually only cost effective in dynamic traffic management systems. For most roads its utterly pointless as the road markings almost never need to be altered. These LED are usually not easy to see (especially in full daylight when the solar panels are meant to be generating power).

However solar powered roadways has generated well over a million dollars for Julie and Scott Brusaw (a therapist and an engineer).

I’m still on the fence as to if they are just delusional dreamers or (now millionaire) con artists. A lot of this looks like just direct ‘what if’ daydreaming, but then you get the part of the promotional video where they are shoveling ground up coloured glass into a wheelbarrow, while narrating that they use as many recycled materials as possible in this project. It’s very difficult to not see that as a direct lie. They must know full well that they did not use any of that material in the construction of their glass tiles.

Watch the video:

And here is the original video pitch that earned these green dreamers 1.9 million dollars for an idea that was dead out of the gate.

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Dream Stealer. Maybe its the same reason we give money to homeless bums. We hope they’ll do something amazing with it.

Dave N

Another of those “sounds like a great idea!” ideas that doesn’t pass 2 minutes of critical thinking. (The first video could have denounced the idea in that amount of time, if they omitted all the hyperbole and fluff).

Its just an Idiot Tax, like those loonies who want you to contribute to them so they can buy EU Carbon permits and tear them up. I really don’t care what morons do with their money – its their affair, not mine.
I’m less concerned about this – which is voluntary stupidity – than various governments making us pay for schemes like Wind & Solar which are only marginally less idiotic.

The Old Crusader

Actually it is not so surprising that folks without scientific educations would find this interesting. My daughter sent me a link for this and asked what I thought. Instead of answering her I asked her “What didn’t they talk about in this promotion?” She thought for a minute and said “They didn’t say how much it would cost.” Bingo.
You don’t need scientific expertise, just a critical mindset – and a deep seated suspicion of other people’s motives.

Roy Spencer

this was one of the most controversial posts I ever had. The popular support for “solar roadways” is amazing, the shallowness of the supporters arguments for it equally amazing.

Bryan Johnson

This reminds me of the famed gnome underpants business plan: Step 1: Acquire millions of underpants. Step 2: ? Step 3: Get rich. Still working on Step 2, but we really like the look of Step 3.

pbft

Didn’t even mention what snowplows would do to these things….

johnmarshall

Basic physics? Like the laws of thermodynamics? Cold cannot heat Hot? But seems to work in your pet the GHE.

Joe Public

Dr. John Bridge in 1587:- “…..a foole and his money is soone parted.”

Damn. $1.9 Meg? Why didn’t I think of it?!?

MarkW

johnmarshall says:
June 4, 2014 at 6:24 am
—-
Not this nonsense again.
Heat flows from both cold to hot and from hot to cold. Everything that is above absolute zero radiates heat.
When the cold warms up, it radiates more.
Thus cold can heat hot.

Last sentence. Typo. “…dead our of the gate.”
The same lack of common sense, little education and no real interest in science is why both the solar roadway and the global warming scam are so popular.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

“Optional Windex Tankers” ….. Optional? try UBIQUITOUS

Latitude

woops…
“Just coating the US road system with roads would cost many times the federal budget.”
….glass

This is something I posted on a couple FaceBook groups, including “Scientific Mensa” that has a several member convinced that AGW is going to destroy us all but buy into this scheme without doing the most rudimentary calculations.
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hampshire_Highway_System , NH has 361 km of Interstate Highway system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_standards says “Minimum lane width of 12 feet (3.7 m).” Let’s assume 4 lanes on average. Obviously, it’s higher, but that will do. 361k x 3.7 x 4 = 5.34 M m^2 of highway surface.
A decent snowstorm accumulates 1 inch of snow per hour, melted, that would be 0.1″, or 0.25 mm. Multiply them together and you get 1.335 K m^3 of frozen water per hour, or 0.37 m^3 per second.
It takes 80 calories, or 335 joules, to melt one ml of ice at 0C. 0.37 m^3 is 370 liters, or, 370,000 ml. So it takes 370 x 335 kj, or 124 Mj to melt that much ice. A joule/second is just a watt, so to keep up with the snow storm will take 124 MW. That’s not too bad, it’s only 10% of NH’s normal electrical load. Melting a breakdown lane and the little strip by the median will need about 15%.
If we wanted to use just solar power, note that electrical production is moot, all we need to do is be dark black. If we can schedule the storms to be around noontime in full sunlight, we can figure this out. Overhead sunlight is good for 1300 w/m^2 or so. Noon in December means the sun is at declination -23.44 degrees, our latitude is about 42-43 degrees, so the solar altitude is some 90 – 43 – 23 = 23 degrees. That means a square meter of a horizontal surface will have 1300 x sin(23) = 500 watts. Of course, the surface will be an ideal radiator, and if we’re assuming full sun during the snow storm, we should accept full radiational output and some of that coming back from greenhouse gas reemission. That should be about 200 W, so we’ll have just 300 W to use.
The whole interstate system in NH will have 5.34 M x 300 W = 1,600 MW. That’s a lot more than I expected. So on a sunny day, solar energy can keep up with a moderate snow storm! Note that folks who have tried to clear ice off a driveway on a sunny December day may disagree.

dave ward

pbft says:
June 4, 2014 at 6:24 am
“Didn’t even mention what snowploughs would do to these things….”
But didn’t you see “Heating elements to melt snow and ice”?
Oh….. “But no cognizant idea of just how much power it takes to melt snow and ice versus the amount of power a dirty scuffed up solar cell will produce, check”
Snowploughs it is, then!

grayjohn

Bullshit derived from the fantasy of alternative energy. Awesome.

Yellow-striped Roadkill

As long as we’re dreaming here…if glass isn’t hard enough maybe we could switch to diamonds.
We could also store electricity for lighting and heating with lithium ion batteries. Did somebody mention that money is no object, or that no tax is too much to bear for such a noble cause?

grayjohn

BS

Chuck Nolan

Puts me in mind of my daddy.
When ever I got what I thought might be a real time or money saver he’d say to me,
“Well, it might sound okay but it’s like overdrive on a jackass.”
“It’s a good idea, it just doesn’t work.”
cn

js4strings

So the roadway surface has to be installed on top of a concrete box, and they never leak. And they are really inexpensive to build. Good luck with that? 1.9 Million wouldn’t be enough money to build much.

Cut them some slack. They are just not as sophisticated as Chakra algore.

cirby

I’ve seen this pitch pop up in several places – it’s huge on FaceBook.
When I point out the obvious issues, like cost and durability, people get MAD. As in “you have to be an idiot!” mad. Other issues, like electricity storage and long-term maintenance? “Well, they must have that covered, stop being skeptical.”
The basic hook for this is “it’s solar, it must be GREAT!”
One guy relied on “the cost of electronics always drops a lot.” Yeah, usually, but the biggest cost of these things isn’t going to be the electronics. It’s the two foot wide, half-inch-plus thick, hexagonal tempered glass plates. It’s literally more expensive than equivalent-size steel sheeting!
The price of high-end tempered glass hasn’t really dropped for decades now, and there’s nothing in this project which even hints at a drop in price for the future.
Not to mention, of course, the foundation to support the whole assembly with near-zero settling (nearly impossible to manage at a reasonable price).
Then there’s the bolts and fastening systems which have to hold them down with almost zero movement, but have to allow easy replacement (while keeping people from just unbolting the whole thing for use at home).

Mike Bromley the Kurd

Both Anthony and Roy have read this comment from me already, but it bears repeating. Someone commented on one of the myriad threads about this, something to the effect: “the greedy oil companies will never allow what amounts to being a world-changing idea”…to which I answered “The oil companies will allow it, if the laws of thermodynamics allow it first”
This folk-scam (crowdsourced) is a touchstone for those with no critical thought capabilities. The positive responses are fluffy reflections of the respondent’s mindset. The same people are likely to be ones who blindly accept consensus arguments. (Gawd, I sound like an Anti-Lewandowsky). This is a peculiar offshoot of AGW-cult thinking…a seemingly benign and naive attempt to create a solution. Seemingly. A Mom-and-Pop version of Al Gore, profiting from carbon reduction. But I think Idaho just got its newest Millionaires, and the whole thing will disappear soon enough, while Grist, Treehugger, and Desmogblog continue to give them free promotion. When the truth finally outs, the silence will be deafening. Pass the popcorn!

Bruce Foutch

The secret ingredient used to protect the memory unit in black boxes is… wait for it… Paraffin! So, that’s what they want to use to build roadways?
“A multi-layered configuration is used to ensure the memory unit’s integrated circuits are adequately protected.
The outermost layer is the housing, which consists of steel armor plate.
Below that is a layer of insulation, followed by a thick slab of paraffin, which forms a thermal block. As the paraffin melts, it absorbs heat and therefore keeps the temperature of the memory core lower.
Beneath the paraffin lies the board containing the memory chips.
Underneath the memory board is another paraffin thermal block, followed by another layer of insulation.
The entire assembly is mounted on a steel plate that serves as an access cover.”
Read more: http://www.madehow.com/Volume-3/Black-Box.html#ixzz33g7wfPVZ

Patrick

This is all over facebook and most of my greenie friends have fallen for it hook, line and sinker. One of my “greenie” friends uses lots of “gas axe” time in her artwork, all that pollution, is also someone who believes coal fired power stations *comsume* vast amounts of water, well according to Greenpeace flier she saw. Pointing out facts like the water isn’t consumed, it *IS* used in cooling and is passed back to the source via an outlet, filtered and cleaner but slightly warmer, than the water taken at the inlet. Most of the water is returned, some of it goes up the cooling towers. Falls on deaf ears!

mark wagner

Thinking is hard work. That’s why so few people do it.

Richard Sharpe

I guess that shows what a powerful scam Global Warming is.

oh that would work SO well up here in maine in winter in tree covered roads that maybe get 1 hr sunlight a day.
and temp swings combined with vehicle weight would shatter them.
would be fun to see what a bad plow cutting edge does to them, one missing road shoe and you could curl the panels up onto side of road with the wing in a really nice pattern I bet.

They really should read “The Roads must Roll” by Heinlein if they want to propose a unique, all purpose change to the nation’s Transportation system. Sure, that was written in 1940, but it was still more plausible than this proposal was.
These kids, they just don’t know the classics anymore.

ConfusedPhoton

“dead our of the gate” – out????

Geology Joe

We already have solar powered roads in Canada. In spring, the heat from the sun melts the ice on the road. A clear demonstration of proof in principle. Now, can I get some $$$$ too?

Winston

“gullible people who don’t have the skillset or decide to ignore basic physics, economics, and common sense”
Exactly the problem with public policy pretending to be based upon in the sciences.
“Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” – George Carlin

Gerry Shuller

I remember “The Roads Must Roll” as OTR – from Dimension X

Keith Willshaw

All of this is dumb enough but a simple workable solution was invented by Percy Shaw of Boothtown, Halifax, West Yorkshire, England in 1933 when he patented the idea of the cats eye.
A simple reflector in flexible retractable housing it works very nicely and is resistant to snow ploughs and vehicles running over the top. Different coloured reflectors delineate the centre of the road and its edges.
There were experiments with heated road surfaces where the summer heat from the asphalt surface was used to heat a large sub surface fluid mass which could then be used in winter to heat the road. However this was expensive and only effective in marginal conditions. In a prolonged cold spell the heat bank is soon depleted even in the UK.

My favorite stupidity was their idea of covering a parking lot with the solar tiles. You know, a parking lot, where lots of cars shade most of the pavement. Now THAT is a really dumb idea.

On the bright side, those getting scammed are global warming alarmists
and may finally come to realize how dumb they really are.

Tom J

Don’t laugh. I predict that the Obama EPA will require these solar roadways to be in place in all 57 states by the year 2010. (And, no, 2010 is not a mistype. Gotta get moving on these things you know.)

Coach Springer

I investigated a guy that sold limited partnerships that had a habit of failing, but he always kept the commissions, management fees and salaries. His cons were always aided by some government connection of some sort – like the small DOT grant here. Never did get him for fraud because the lawyers wouldn’t take the case because we couldn’t prove he wasn’t serious about his undertakings. Yet, he proposed to start a brokerage to sell his schemes on an ongoing basis – so he was doing a sincere con. Which is what you have here, although the debunking makes me think scienter is closer to proof here. But then, so is their underlying fanaticism.
Let’s test this at a California airport reserved exclusively for politicians. We can borrow some of their high speed rail funds to build it. Other. People’s. Money.

John S

Please contribute to my project http://www.ImprovedSolarRoadways.com the main purpose is to extract money from alarmists to fund my party lifestyle. I promise at least 1% of the proceeds will go to google paid search so I can extract even more money from alarmists…

DGH

Thank goodness it only snows when the sun is shining. Otherwise we would need solar roads and snowplows.

I have a project there designed to reduce the cost of software development with real hardware and software. I can tell you our fundraising is not going well.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/go-forth-and-prosper/x/7082918
If only I was trying to do the impossible.

Gary Pearse

Her hubby sounds like a civil engineer – roads and stuff. It takes18 to 36MJ of energy per kilo of glass (5 – 10 (all in) kWh/kg or 2.3 -4.5kWh/lb). First figure the melt, second figure the all-in energy: mining the quartz sand and feldspar, transport, etc. Where I come from, an engineer with a stupid enterprise on public support would be decertified and possibly jailed; if it’s a scam, jail would be pretty much assured. If he was an ordinary citizen, he might get away with it.

arthur4563 says:
June 4, 2014 at 7:22 am
> My favorite stupidity was their idea of covering a parking lot with the solar tiles. You know, a parking lot, where lots of cars shade most of the pavement. Now THAT is a really dumb idea.
Yeah, but how about all the parking lots that are empty at night? 🙂

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

I think this is fabulous. The global warming psychosis has created a viable pool of marks for scamsters. As long as they target gullible private investors I’m all for it. A few “we lost our life savings” sob stories hitting the popular press will go a long way to discrediting the otherwise unchecked global warming mantra.
New paper indicates global warming causes dumber investors; more research needed.

Steve in SC

Re Thunderfoot’s diatribe, Turn the maximum verbosity off.
This sounds like nothing more than a scam to get rich at the expense of the stupid.

Mike Lewis

My great idea is to put pipes in the roads and pump ocean water through them containing Dr. Trenberth’s deep ocean heat to melt the snow. That’ll kill two birds with one stone – removes the snow and removes the heat from the ocean. Maybe I should post that on Indiegogo, Radiant Roadways – A Real Solution. Hmmm….

Ben Wilson

You almost wonder if the video was done as a joke. . . . I think my favorite part is the picture of a small farm tractor sitting on the tiles, ostensibly as proof that a thousand 80,000 pound trucks an hour going down the road at 70 mph over a tile surface won’t cause any damage at all to the tiles.
I ran the numbers — at it looks to me like it would cost about $1.5 million dollars a mile for a two lane road — just for solar cells. . . . .I’ll leave it to someone else to figure out the cost of the actual tiles, the labor cost for wiring everything up, the cost of the heater units, the cost of the LEDs, the cost of the voltage inverters, and the cost of the trenches on each side of the road housing the various electronics. Then, of course, you have to figure in the cost of having the windex tanker/scrubber keeping everything clean. . . .
This is a perfect example of something the greenies would embrace. . . .

Patrick

“Ric Werme says:
June 4, 2014 at 7:37 am
Yeah, but how about all the parking lots that are empty at night? :-)”
At night you say? I guess you have not been privy to a full, depth of winter, dark dull rainy day in say southern England or southern Ireland? Where people get up for work, in the dark, drive to work, in the dark, park in slightly not so dark conditions (Covering these solar “panels” with minimal solar “light” with said car), work during the “day”, then go home, in the dark, exposing the “solar road” to all that lovely “solar” after they leave, in the dark.

Patrick

“Ben Wilson says:
June 4, 2014 at 7:49 am ”
I pointed this out too to my FB friends who are really keen on this. But then I point out that driving on wet glass is just a slipery as ice. And lets not forget how many of these “panels” cave in after a while…I would stick with blacktop!