It’s sort of like the Emmy Awards of the electrical engineering world. I’m talking about the EE Times Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE) Awards. This year, one of Idaho’s own happens to be a finalist.
Sandpoint electronics tinkerer Scott Brusaw’s company, Solar Roadways is one of five ACE finalists for most promising renewable energy. “After all of the hard work we've gone through,” said Brusaw in a March 22 e-mail, “it's rewarding to be recognized by an organization of my peers (electrical engineers).” He’ll have to wait until April 27 when the ACE Awards are handed out in San Jose, California to find out if he's won.
So what’s Brusaw’s promising renewable energy invention? He wants to rip up America’s roads and pave the way for an intelligent road system made entirely from solar panels. The panels would be incased in heavy-duty glass and would generate electricity. It may sound crazy but the U.S. Department of Transportation gave Brusaw a $100,000 contract last year to research solar roads.
He took that money and built a prototype. Brusaw actually tested his mini solar roadway last month in a friend’s garage in Sandpoint. He tells me the test went “great.”
Mark Dixon of YERT videotaped the demonstration. He’s now editing ten hours of footage into a five minute video to show the world what Brusaw’s invention can do. Brusaw hopes the video will be on his website by the end of this month.
"We've just completed our first prototype Solar Road Panel with funding from a U.S. Department of Transportation Phase I SBIR contract. Phase II involves a commercialization plan to begin the manufacturing process." said Brusaw in a news release.
Now Brusaw waits to find out if Solar Roadways will get additional funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation to further develop this intelligent system. That could be late spring at the earliest.
Brusaw calculates five billion solar panels would be needed to cover every road, parking lot and driveway in the United States. The cost? Ten thousand dollars for just one panel. But Brusaw told Boise Weekly in a profile we did in early February that an intelligent roadway would pay for itself by generating electricity. "We'd be shutting down coal-fired plants by generating electricity in a different way," Brusaw said.