While there is an abundance of positive response to the Solar
Roadways concept, there has also been an avalanche of negativity that
completely misses the point. As reviewed in a recent Global Warming is Real article,
the concept of embedding solar panels into American roadways
represents a powerful new approach to green innovation and finance.
Without paying heed to the benefits, many critics are focused on what they
perceive as the project’s technological imperfections. Among their
comments, they suggest the surface of a roadway with embedded solar
panels would not be able to handle the stresses placed upon it, or that
vehicular traffic and debris would seriously inhibit the ability of such
roads to harvest the sun’s energy. Other criticisms state that the
concept is hardly new and therefore somehow less worthy of
interest. Some lament that we should be using roofs rather than roads to
collect solar power.
Still others rue the cost. The creators of the Solar Roadway
project have estimated the cost of embedding solar panels on American
highways to be under $5 billion, while others claim it will cost
trillions of dollars.
An engineer by the name of Roy Spencer is among those who dismiss the
viability of Solar Roadways. It must be stated at the outset, while he
claims to be a climatologist, he also seems to infer that “global
warming is mostly natural.” So it is important to note that as far as
his credibility is concerned, he is a scientific outlier, aka, a climate
In an article titled Solar Roadways Project: A Really Bad Idea, Spencer
flatly dismisses the concept. He says, ” I don’t see how anyone with an
engineering background could have seriously entertained the idea.” In
the body of his article, he sites “numerous practical problems.”
Spencer regurgitates some of the criticisms cited above and he
concludes by dismissing the Solar Roadways project as a “scam.” However,
his commentary should be appreciated from the perspective of someone
trying to promote his book on climate denial. In this book titled, The Great Global Warming Blunder, Spencer eloquently illustrates his confirmation bias by creatively
spinning the evidence to suggest that 98 percent of scientists are
wrong in their interpretation of the data. According to his assessments,
global warming is not manmade. A contention which has been repeatedly
In an article titled, “Why the Solar Roadways Project on Indiegogo is Actually Really Silly”
Joel Anderson said the project is “disingenuous at best and fraudulent
at worst,” he goes on to call it a “pipe dream.” While he claims to be
interested in efforts to stop global warming, his comments sound more
like the rants of a fossil fuel advocate. Perhaps he is just so
mainstream that he is incapable of appreciating out-of-the-box thinking.
He appears to be oblivious to the fact that several great innovations
have been creatively developed and financed outside of the mainstream.
The next phase of development will require a better business model
and more scientific and technical feasibility assessments. However, this
innovative approach to concept development and creative method of
financing represent a force that ultimately increase the energies being
invested in green technologies.
Anderson’s scathing attack on the technology and the integrity of
Solar Roadways is vapid. In his haste to pan the project, he has
overlooked its merits. The Indiegogo crowd would never buy into the more
conventional investment options, these investments do not detract from
the mainstream, they are an entirely new investment channel.
Any nation serious about reducing its emissions is bound to find this
concept attractive. This is certainly true in the U.S., where President
Obama just announced that he will use his powers to pass new rules
restricting emissions from power plants. This will drive investment in a
plethora of clean energy projects.
While some of these criticisms may prove to be true, this does
not detract from the utility of grassroots technological innovation and
financing. Solar Roadways represents the type of innovative thinking and
creative financing that may expedite the process by bypassing the
normal channels of technological innovation and traditional financing.
The power of crowdfunding is already reverberating around the world.
There are a wide array of crowdfunding opportunities that are making a
difference in the growth of green energy programs. A number of platforms use crowdfunding to support green technology, renewable energy and social entrepreneurship.
While we should scrutinize the Solar Roadways concept, we should be
careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. An in-depth
scientific review of Solar Roadways may discover problems that make it
unworkable at scale. However, that does not preclude the utility of
grassroots innovation or creative finance.
Our failure to address the growing threat of climate change demands
that we at least consider new technological innovations and
new approaches to finance. Regardless of whether or not the Solar
Roadway project ever gets built, it is emblematic of alternative efforts
that become more important as we get ever closer to irreversible
Source: Global Warming is Real