Solar Innovation: On the Road Again

Drew Boyd & Jacob Goldenberg recognized a pattern in innovation to create a systematic approach: Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. They call it the Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. We’re doing a series of how solar technologies approach innovation. Let’s take a look at how some of these innovation approaches (Task Unification and Attribute Dependency) apply to solar technologies in roadways across the world.

Highway Sounds Barriers

Photo Source: electrek
Photo Source: electrek

The solar systems used in the Netherlands were designed to the specific function of creating sound barriers along highways. And there’s some great art on the walls, to boot! The solar panels sound barriers were tested with a variety of panels and designs, and eventually the ones being installed now were greenlit as the standard. This invention uses Task Unification where the array serves two purposes: (1) reducing sound disruption from the road and (2) producing electricity for the grid. The installations also use Multiplication by using the other side of the PV cells to capture twice as much light. This is called a bifacial solar cell. This beats putting up concrete barriers that don’t do anything else but grow ivy on them and break apart!

Solar Roads

Solar roads—actual roads made from PV cells that you drive on—are becoming more common, even here in the United States. We look forward to seeing what other cities have in store!

Conway, Missouri

Solar Roadways' walkway, Source: Motor Authorirty
Solar Roadways’ walkway, Source: Motor Authorirty

For a pilot project, the state of Missouri hired Solar Roadways to install hexagonal solar panels as a walkway at the state’s welcome center in Conway. If successful, the same technology will be used for its stretch of Route 66’s road. The PV roads are designed to have the same traction as pavement, so they shows the patterns of Task Unification by being solar panels and roads, including even having LED lights that also serve as painted road stripes. However, the panels are show Attribute Dependency! Depending on the temperature, the solar road can adapt. It can melt snow and ice immediately to prevent accidents or closures.

Normandy, France

The Normandy village of Tourouvre-au-Perche had the innovative company Colas install 1 km (.6 mi) of its Wattway solar road to power all of its street lights. As of now, it is still in its two-year trial, to see if it’s worth installing more. “Colas said the panels have been covered with a resin containing fine sheets of silicon, making them tough enough to withstand all traffic, including HGVs.” This concept once again uses Task Unification in using the solar panels as roadways that also provide electricity for the street lights that, in turn, shine light on the roadway.

The Ray, Georgia

The Ray's solar stretch; Image Source: The Ray
The Ray’s solar stretch; Image Source: The Ray

A 16-mile stretch of I-85 in southwest Georgia, known as The Ray, is testing how solar can revolutionize the Georgia infrastructure by making it sustainable. In fact, the stretch of road is going to be an ecosystem that serves both the natural and manmade worlds and is filled with Task Unification patterns. West Point’s rest stop has an electric car charging station powered by solar panels, Colas installed their Wattway roadway, and the a tire pressure system was installed to improve road safety. Cars drive over the system, which measures your tires’ air pressure, and drivers receive notifications by ticket or text about their tire pressure.

The project included other natural ways to green the roadway with patterns of Attribute Dependency. “The Ray works to use that land. Kernza wheat, whose deep roots help retain clean water and trap carbon, grows on the shoulder. Bioswales, drainage ditches filled with native Georgia vegetation, capture pollutants during rainstorms,” says USNews. “A 7,000-square-foot pollinator garden provides a butterfly and honeybee habitat.”  Eventually, the pollinator garden will use Task Unification to double as a solar field in October 2018, and the Ray will shortly begin its autonomous vehicle pilot program. Executive Director of The Ray, Allie Kelly tells Curbed, “We’re at a tipping point in transportation. In five to ten years, we won’t remember a time when we invested a dime in infrastructure spending for a road that only did one thing.” Amazing!

Icon Solar will always bring you the best technology for the best price possible to give you maximum financial benefit from a solar system. We strive to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies, and we look forward to what innovations arise in the solar industry. Stay tuned to see what innovations are out there in our blog!

Solar ‘n’ Suds: Using the Sun to Power Craft Breweries

Micro, nano, and craft breweries are on the rise, and that’s important for a variety of reasons like revitalizing local economies. However, one of the most important elements they bring is their sustainable operations. Brewing takes a lot of water and energy, and they recognize that their businesses depend on access to good resources. The American Brewers Association even provides sustainability manuals for interested parties.

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Solar Innovation: Inspired by Nature

Drew Boyd & Jacob Goldenberg recognized a pattern in innovation to create a systematic approach: Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. They call it the Systematic Inventive Thinking, or SIT. We’re doing a series of how solar technologies approach innovation. Let’s take a look at how some of these innovation approaches (Task Unification and Attribute Dependency) apply to solar technologies inspired by nature.

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Farewell, Fossils!

Farewell, fossils!Fossil fuels are a thing of the past. Even utility, coal, natural gas, and oil companies recognize the power of renewable energies, especially solar power. While the International Energy Agency (IEA) and U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) predict a slowing down of solar installation, all signs say that it’s not—especially with fossil fuel companies going green.

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Solar Panels from Sea to Shining Sea

We may not know all the services our government provides for us (The United States Board on Geographic Names – who knew?!), but one thing that you’ll notice with a sharp eye is that a lot of our government buildings are run on solar power. This is especially interesting because government often sets the tone for the future. Our government’s interest in solar energy displays the value of this energy source and saves citizens money.

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Solar Innovation: Task Unification of Ground Mount Solar Arrays

Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg recognized patterns of innovation to create a systematic approach with Subtraction, Division, Multiplication, Task Unification and Attribute Dependency. They call it the Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), or Inside the Box innovation. We’re going to do a series of how solar technologies approach innovation. Let’s take a look at how Task Unification plays out in standard ground mount solar arrays!

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What’s My Carbon Footprint (and Why Should I Care)?

Dear Wanda,

 What’s My Carbon Footprint (and Why Should I Care)?

 -Big Foot

Hey Big Foot!

You may have heard the term “carbon footprint” for quite some time now, but most anyone would struggle explaining what it is to someone. You might know that it has something to do with the environment or that it is something that you want to reduce.

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We already have the largest publicly accessible solar array in the country. Are we about to get bigger?

What could make Fiona the Hippo even more lovable? How about the fact that she relies on solar energy? The Cincinnati Zoo is the Greenest Zoo in America currently, thanks to the solar canopy that is installed above the parking lot. These panels make our zoo the largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the country! The parking lot produces 20 percent of the Cincinnati Zoo’s needed energy and generates additional solar power to send back to the utility company.  

Cincinnati, or should we say Suncinnati? This solar mega-house may get EVEN bigger! 

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