Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An International Solar Highway - Crazy Idea or Realistic?

Fort Kent, MaineImage via Wikipedia

The International Solar Highway by Shawn Deprey

A few weeks ago I visited a presentation at the University of Maine at Fort Kent by a guest speaker, Mark Dixon. He was a very cheerful, motivational, and passionate guy. He seemed to not only care for people, but the environment as well, which was the main topic for his presentation. Mark, and his 3 friends, traveled the United States, talking to people, and promoting the "go green" lifestyle.

Now, I am no prize; I probably waste more than I should; I use my computer far too much to conserve energy. I promote the "go green" lifestyle mostly in thought rather than action, not to say that I do not try though. I do keep my garbage down to less than the average person, and I turn lights off, neurotically. I have even adopted the "mellow yellow" principle in the bathroom.

In Mark's presentation there was one that that really caught my eye. Maybe it is because I am a techie, maybe it is because the idea just made sense. Either way, Mark presented the idea of an International Solar Highway. I know, sounds crazy right? Well, it might surprise you, but in the long run, this idea is far more practical than not doing it. Allow me to explain.

There is no doubt that we will eventually exhaust all of earth's oil, coal, natural gas, etc... However, Earth has one resource that is absolutely renewable until, well, the end of Earth itself. This resource is the sun...

In the summer time, our tar and asphalt roads generate loads of heat; enough to fry an egg on. This heat all comes from the sun's rays smacking down on the road. Countless miles of road each day are bombarded with endless energy from the sun.

As stated by Mark Dixon, and this is by no means a direct quote, "If we replaced our roads with a solar highway, we could generate enough energy per year to supply Americans with three times their average consumption of energy." Think of all the energy Americans use per day! We happen to be the most wasteful nation in the world, and this proposed "Solar Highway" will supply us with enough energy in one year, to last us three more...

There is also one final note I would like to make about this energy. It is 100% clean and pure. It comes right from the sun itself. Now, I know some of you must be thinking, this is going to cost us tax payers a fortune.... Well, Yea. But I want to stop you there. Right now America is in an economic recession. Money is a hard thing to come by, and a lot of money is going towards energy itself.

As stated on, "As technology changes the wind and solar systems should be changed. However, the entire system should last 10 years but should pay for itself within 1.5 years." With this in mind I would like to beg the question, how can building a solar highway not be a good idea, if it will pay itself off in at least 1.5 years? The solar highway will not only provide a triple fold excess in energy, but also provide thousands upon thousands of job to everybody involved. With such a large gain in energy and money to be made, America may even be able to begin paying off that growing national debt.

International Solar Highway.

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