Missouri Will Test First Solar Road on Route 66

June 27, 2016

4:09 pm

The success of a crowd-funding campaign rarely dictates the longevity of a startup. While thousands of people gift capital before a business has even launched, it can be difficult to capitalize on the momentum. Fortunately, many companies are able to turn these generous donations into real-life products. And one of these crowd-funding success stories is going to change the world with roads that can harness the power of solar energy.

That’s right, Solar Roadways has transformed their Earth-shattering $2.2 million Indiegogo campaign into an actual deal with the Missouri Department of Transportation to set up solar roads on a small stretch of Route 66. The Idaho-based startup will install these hexagonal-paneled roads near a rest stop with the ultimate goal of powering the buildings and lights nearby to test the practicality and money-making potential of the technology.

“Solar roadways can hopefully create new revenue streams,” said Tom Blair, assistant district engineer for MoDOT and head of the ‘Road to Tomorrow‘ long-range planning effort, to the Missouri News Tribune.

This deal between Solar Roadways and the Missouri Department of Transportation has not been easy to establish. After five years, the husband and wife founders of the solar energy-focused company were able to solidify a deal with the US Department of Transportation that secured $750,000 to build a prototype in their parking lot in Boise while further researching the potential for a wider release.

So, this probably won’t happen for another few decades, right? Wrong! Apparently, the Idaho-based startup and the Missouri Department of Transportation is dedicated to making this technological jump as soon as possible, insisting that they will be installed and working by the end of the year.

“Technology already has changed how we think about different things in our lives,” Blair told the Tribune. “And it is going to disrupt everything that every one of us transportation leaders have experienced to date in our life.”

As a country that is constantly debating the existence of climate change and is down-trending on the Environmental Performance Index, it is refreshing to see the US taking the environment seriously. Even taking a risk on something that seems as silly as glass roads shows that they are making an actual effort to temper our dependance on fossil fuels. While the tests will yield a wide range of results, opinions, and nay-sayers, this writer is excited about the prospect of a country that addresses its crumbling infrastructure and energy needs in one technology-fueled innovation.

H/T Curbed

Photo: Solar Roadway

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at [email protected].

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