Mall parking lots to be paved with solar panels?

A potentially revolutionary invention could see mall parking lots, as well as streets and other ground surfaces, paved with solar panels. It sounds outlandish but it's already being funded and tested, and its inventors are seeking funding to make it a reality. Interestingly, the technology would also allow for parking surfaces to be modified with ease, as LED-illuminated roadway lighting would replace painted asphalt. Its inventors say that the technology will pay for itself, not to mention be beneficial to the environment.  

Solar parking lots (and streets) could do the following: 

  • allow malls to create handicapped and other targeted parking zones, based on needs at the moment,
  • improve road safety by changing traffic patterns in real time when needed, essentially eliminating the need for painted roadways,
  • prevent accidents by providing advance illuminated warning of animals or debris on the road,
  • melt ice in an environmentally-friendly way without the need for salt or sand.

Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks, weighting up to 250,000 lbs. Solar panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds; any surface under the sun. Its inventors say that the panels pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.

A nationwide system could produce more clean, renewable energy than a country uses as a whole, according to their website: The panels have many other features as well, including: heating elements to stay snow/ice-free, LEDs for road markings and signage, and an attached cable corridor to store and treat stormwater and house power and data cables. Electric vehicles would be able to charge with energy from the sun (instead of fossil fuels) from parking lots and driveways, and after a roadway system is in place, mutual induction technology would allow for charging while driving. 

Solar Roadways has received two phases of funding from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, for the research and development of a paving system that will pay for itself over its lifespan. The company's second phase involves building a prototype parking lot, for which it's currently fundraising. 

The panel's glass surface has been tested for traction, load testing, and impact resistance in civil engineering laboratories, and has exceeded all requirements.

Artist rendering of a parking lot paved with solar panels. Image: Solar Roadways

Artist rendering of a parking lot paved with solar panels. Image: Solar Roadways

The problem of polluted stormwater is also addressed: currently, over 50% of the pollution in our waterways comes from stormwater. Solar Roadways has created a section in its cable corridors for storing, treating, and removing stormwater.

Solar Roadways is leveraging its initial Federal grant with an Indiegogo campaign that has already surpassed its Indiegogo crowdfunding goal of $1,000,000. It has three more days to go. Click the link below to contribute:

[Solar Roadways Indiegogo crowdfunding]


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