Author Topic: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!  (Read 78281 times)

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Offline rolycat

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #175 on: November 15, 2015, 02:35:02 am »
Wattway, the Colas solar road technology, does at least appear to be a lot cheaper and easier to implement than the Brusaws' vision of tearing up all our roads and replacing them with vast concrete trenches packed with glass and expensive electronics.

They have come up with composite solar panels just a few millimetres thick, which can be glued on top of existing road surfaces. It doesn't sound too durable, but Colas are a multi-billion-Euro civil engineering company specialising in road and rail track construction, so maybe they know something we don't.

Or maybe it's just another triumph of marketing over reality which will turn out to have very limited applications in certain specialised situations...
 

Offline cybermaus

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #176 on: December 06, 2015, 08:57:37 am »
At least their video production value is a little higher than...
Solar FRIKKIN Roadways...

Maybe, but those production values do not seem to be working. Still only 354 views. Not exactly viral.

Even if they only produced it to show in fat-cat board meetings, 354 is very low.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #177 on: December 07, 2015, 12:39:14 pm »
Did someone mention using the generated power to melt snow?

Time for a thought experiment.
- Picture the scenario ...
- Assess the power generated ...
Hmmmm....

Another flaw:


As good as a solar bike light.

Needs a really good storage solution (but, then, so does every other scenario)
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #178 on: December 07, 2015, 01:27:26 pm »
As impractical as it all seems - and on today's engineering, demonstrably so - I am happy that someone is at least making an effort to explore ideas.  Fossil fuels are finite and, at some point, we will not have the luxury to lean on them as the Old Faithful backstop.

Looking at all sorts of alternatives and implementing pilot installations is only going to be beneficial.  If not in an economically viable solution, then at least as an R&D exercise - not unlike Tomas Edison's efforts in making a light globe.  Also, in considering the negative factor of Opportunity Cost (which is readily quantifiable) there is the positive factor of addressing the cost to Society, including things like pollution and health costs as well as the 'Crisis Cost' when the end of a resource's availability has a definite date and no replacement is in place.  While putting numbers on these is all but impossible, we need to give them some weight.


I like Dave's 'ballpark' maths which sets out some fairly clear indications and I can't see him being proven wrong any time soon, if ever.  Maybe we need the Batteriser crowd to wave their magic on some of these projects.  An 800% increase in available output would make solar roads a much better proposition.  But, then, if you were to apply that to other solar generation options ... hmmm... yeah ... Solar roads suck.

As for using LEDs that point to the sky - how about they get angled down and aimed at the driver.  A lot less power required and reduced light pollution.  Not that it really matters.
 

Offline Delta

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #179 on: December 10, 2015, 12:06:29 am »
As impractical as it all seems - and on today's engineering, demonstrably so - I am happy that someone is at least making an effort to explore ideas.  Fossil fuels are finite and, at some point, we will not have the luxury to lean on them as the Old Faithful backstop.

Looking at all sorts of alternatives and implementing pilot installations is only going to be beneficial.  If not in an economically viable solution, then at least as an R&D exercise - not unlike Tomas Edison's efforts in making a light globe.  Also, in considering the negative factor of Opportunity Cost (which is readily quantifiable) there is the positive factor of addressing the cost to Society, including things like pollution and health costs as well as the 'Crisis Cost' when the end of a resource's availability has a definite date and no replacement is in place.  While putting numbers on these is all but impossible, we need to give them some weight.


I like Dave's 'ballpark' maths which sets out some fairly clear indications and I can't see him being proven wrong any time soon, if ever.  Maybe we need the Batteriser crowd to wave their magic on some of these projects.  An 800% increase in available output would make solar roads a much better proposition.  But, then, if you were to apply that to other solar generation options ... hmmm... yeah ... Solar roads suck.

As for using LEDs that point to the sky - how about they get angled down and aimed at the driver.  A lot less power required and reduced light pollution.  Not that it really matters.

I think you may have entirely missed the point.  No matter how much the technology develops, putting solar panels underneath a fecking road will never ever be a good idea...
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #180 on: December 10, 2015, 03:01:47 am »
No, I have not missed the point at all.

It may well be that putting solar panels - and I take it we are specifically limiting the discussion to photovoltaic - under a road will never be practical, but I am not limiting my thinking to that - and here are my reasons why:

1. It's never a bad thing to explore ideas.

2. The point at which an idea becomes 'Dead in the Water' will vary from person to person.

3. Even exploring bad ideas will add knowledge.

4. The 'Debunkers' will need to put on their thinking caps and debate with the proponents.  Done appropriately, both sides will benefit.  Besides, I believe having a 'Devil's advocate' perspective included in the process is necessary.

5. Bad ideas can lead to inspiration for good, brilliant or even paradigm-shifting ones.  (I had my first formal Brainstorming session in my first year at Uni.  This produced some really bizarre ideas.  I loved it!)

6. The work done today on exploring a bad idea could become fundamental research for a new type of technology tomorrow.

7. Even ideas in the extreme can be worth exploring.  Yes it is likely it will be found stupid, thus reinforcing our understanding of the universe, but there is the chance that what we considered extreme could hide a doorway to something incredible.



But I digress from the specific focus of this topic.

Solar Roadways as presented (utilising PV technology) is problematic and there are more economically sound options available.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #181 on: December 10, 2015, 04:20:51 am »
No, I have not missed the point at all.
It may well be that putting solar panels - and I take it we are specifically limiting the discussion to photovoltaic - under a road will never be practical, but I am not limiting my thinking to that - and here are my reasons why:
1. It's never a bad thing to explore ideas.
2. The point at which an idea becomes 'Dead in the Water' will vary from person to person.
3. Even exploring bad ideas will add knowledge.
4. The 'Debunkers' will need to put on their thinking caps and debate with the proponents.  Done appropriately, both sides will benefit.  Besides, I believe having a 'Devil's advocate' perspective included in the process is necessary.
5. Bad ideas can lead to inspiration for good, brilliant or even paradigm-shifting ones.  (I had my first formal Brainstorming session in my first year at Uni.  This produced some really bizarre ideas.  I loved it!)
6. The work done today on exploring a bad idea could become fundamental research for a new type of technology tomorrow.
7. Even ideas in the extreme can be worth exploring.  Yes it is likely it will be found stupid, thus reinforcing our understanding of the universe, but there is the chance that what we considered extreme could hide a doorway to something incredible.

All that is fine and dandy, but all the solar roadways schemes to date have been doing is nothing more than trying to repackage existing solar technology into a physical usage scenario that is an demonstrably a bad idea.
Many supporters of Solar Freaking Roadways wrongly think that the money is going toward "research" into new technology of some description. That couldn't further from the truth.
 

Offline NANDBlog

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #182 on: December 10, 2015, 09:56:15 am »
All that is fine and dandy, but all the solar roadways schemes to date have been doing is nothing more than trying to repackage existing solar technology into a physical usage scenario that is an demonstrably a bad idea.
Many supporters of Solar Freaking Roadways wrongly think that the money is going toward "research" into new technology of some description. That couldn't further from the truth.
Yep, the goal seems to be to grab government funding or crowd funding on an idea, which is just bad.
I'm against bad projects and ideas. It shifts people general belief what is possible and what is not. People already believe anything stupid, engineers shouldn't encourage this kind of behavior.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #183 on: December 10, 2015, 01:34:42 pm »

All that is fine and dandy, but all the solar roadways schemes to date have been doing is nothing more than trying to repackage existing solar technology into a physical usage scenario that is an demonstrably a bad idea.
Many supporters of Solar Freaking Roadways wrongly think that the money is going toward "research" into new technology of some description. That couldn't further from the truth.


Well, they would certainly be looking into how to implement the concept - such as materials science for encapsulation of the PV cells, as an example.  This would be research into an adjunct technology - and the proponents would, logically, include all such components of the project in discussion.  It comes down to the definition and scope of the term "technology".  Road builders would have just as much focus on the "technology" of road construction as EEVbloggers have on the PV side of things.

But, be that as it may, I DO have a problem if the supporters are being deliberately misled.  It's one thing for a supporter to misinterpret the objectives of a project because they have no real clue of the challenges involved and dream of a miracle result, but it is quite another to lead them on.  Unfortunately, sometimes when the writing starts appearing on the wall, brazen attempts are made to 'save face' and the results of that can be less than pleasant for all concerned.


Bottom line - yes, roadways do represent a resource for the capture of energy, but the PV Solar Roadway is not practical.
 

Offline Delta

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #184 on: December 10, 2015, 01:51:05 pm »
The crux of the matter for me, is that this is a prefect example of a "green" project being chosen because it's nice and glamorous, rather than because it's a good use of resources.

Governments, local councils, businesses etc all like to scream "check us, we're doing something really progressive, new, and environmentally friendly".

"We've built a solar road!"  sounds much sexier than "we've stuck a load of panels on our roof", even though the latter option is a far far better idea, as Dave has conclusively shown, using real data...
 

Offline station240

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #185 on: December 10, 2015, 02:03:52 pm »
Many supporters of Solar Freaking Roadways wrongly think that the money is going toward "research" into new technology of some description. That couldn't further from the truth.

The only research seems to be how to make the glass road surface and it's coating actually function as designed.
I fail to see many applications where people need to subject solar panels to enough abuse to require this sort of glass/treatment.

The crux of the matter for me, is that this is a prefect example of a "green" project being chosen because it's nice and glamorous, rather than because it's a good use of resources.

Governments, local councils, businesses etc all like to scream "check us, we're doing something really progressive, new, and environmentally friendly".


Council here installed a row of solar powered street lights for a path, as was cheaper/greener than burying cabling to get them hooked to the grid. After a few years the batteries died, pretty sure years later the lights are still offline. Design flaw means you need a crane to remove the entire pole to get to the battery, no doubt the original company is closed down.
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #186 on: December 10, 2015, 02:04:45 pm »
The crux of the matter for me, is that this is a prefect example of a "green" project being chosen because it's nice and glamorous, rather than because it's a good use of resources.

Governments, local councils, businesses etc all like to scream "check us, we're doing something really progressive, new, and environmentally friendly".

"We've built a solar road!"  sounds much sexier than "we've stuck a load of panels on our roof", even though the latter option is a far far better idea, as Dave has conclusively shown, using real data...

Now there's an argument that's hard to beat.

There's so much politicking going on in the world that cold, hard facts are ignored because they don't work in promoting the 'cause' (whatever that may be).

Unfortunately, all too often it's the perception that matters - bugger the truth.
 

Online coppice

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #187 on: January 06, 2016, 04:27:37 am »
Does anyone know where this http://himinsolarpv.com/3-6-solar-car-parking.html installation is? It looks like its in a hot place where shading of the cars in a car park has real benefits, and it gives 300kW of solar power capacity at the same time. The cost of the structural frame is shared between the two tasks, and the solar panel doubles up as the sun shade. I don't know how the overall economics of that works out, but it does look like real engineering.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #188 on: January 06, 2016, 07:17:48 pm »
Does anyone know where this http://himinsolarpv.com/3-6-solar-car-parking.html installation is? It looks like its in a hot place where shading of the cars in a car park has real benefits, and it gives 300kW of solar power capacity at the same time. The cost of the structural frame is shared between the two tasks, and the solar panel doubles up as the sun shade. I don't know how the overall economics of that works out, but it does look like real engineering.

Don't know where that is, but when I lived in Tucson, AZ, solar installations providing shade for a car park was not uncommon.  The economics are often funky.  Usually the people benefiting from the shade don't pay any direct costs, as they are at a place of employment.  The employer pays any extra costs.  The employer may get "green" credits against one of a series of regulations, gets good "green" publicity, and has one more perk to aid in employee attraction and retention.  None of that is easily translatable into dollars and cents, but combined with solar energy credits it apparently works for quite a few people.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #189 on: January 06, 2016, 07:23:02 pm »
 I'm familiar with someone who lives in Hawaii and they have something similar at his work, with free hookups to charge electric cars from the solar panels. That sort of this is a GREAT use of solar panels, as opposed to the silly roadway idea. Shade to keep your car cool PLUS recharge your electric car for the trip home.
 

Offline TheWelly888

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #190 on: January 06, 2016, 07:23:39 pm »
There has been quite a bit of flooding in Scotland and Northern England recently - if any of the roads damaged by flooding had been solar roadways then the costs of repair would have been much higher! Not to mention the loss of generating capacity.
You can do anything with the right attitude and a hammer.
 

Offline boffin

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #191 on: January 06, 2016, 08:03:48 pm »
Does anyone know where this http://himinsolarpv.com/3-6-solar-car-parking.html installation is? It looks like its in a hot place where shading of the cars in a car park has real benefits, and it gives 300kW of solar power capacity at the same time. The cost of the structural frame is shared between the two tasks, and the solar panel doubles up as the sun shade. I don't know how the overall economics of that works out, but it does look like real engineering.

Not sure if it's the same one, but there's a jewelry making distributor in New Mexico called "Rio Grande" (handy for electronics tools too) that have a similar installation:
http://www.riogrande.com/ad/responsibility

Great company all around; and this is what I use (and bought from RG) for driling PCBs.  http://www.riogrande.com/Product/variable-speed-mini-drill-press/330012
It's not got great torque but it's so much better than the dremel press.
 

Online coppice

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #192 on: January 25, 2016, 07:53:38 am »
Here's one I like. If you are going to grow mushrooms in the dark, why not use the roofs of the mushroom sheds for solar power.  :)

http://www.scmp.com/sites/default/files/styles/486w/public/images/methode/2015/12/08/4fb889a8-9d50-11e5-b919-9dd19e242533_486x.jpg?itok=3_NS9jIW
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #193 on: January 25, 2016, 12:55:01 pm »
 Interesting - there are many mushroom houses near me, a major packaging company has their HQ here. But most of them are built into the hillside with only a northern exposure.
 There are also several large solar farms in my area, where they've taken fields and filled them with rows and rows of solar panels. I haven't seen any specs on their energy production though. The one is located at an existing trash to steam generating station, they had a large open land area which now hosts a large array of solar panels.
 That uses up a lot of land area though, and since the frames are right on the ground (holding the panels at an angle), there's no other use for the space. Any large elevated surface is going to be the best, since the space is currently being unused, and in the case of it being a roof, is simply heating up the space below it when it could be generating power if covered with solar panels. All these silly ideas like the road sucking up money only fuel the anti-solar people who can (rightfully) point to such nonsense as a huge waste of money. A REAL breakthrough, and I'm sure this is being worked on, is a solar power generating material that can replace the traditional shingle roof. Not panels mounted to an existing roof - the entire roof covering is solar cells. Get it cost-comparative to shingles and you'd have to live in the woods or be totally nuts to not do it. For a house like mine, it would be half and half. My house is aligned almost exactly east-west, so I have one roof sloped facing south, and the other side faces north. Be nearly pointless to put solar power collection on the north side roof, but the south side gets sun all day, every day, summer or winter.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #194 on: January 25, 2016, 07:54:41 pm »
Interesting - there are many mushroom houses near me, a major packaging company has their HQ here. But most of them are built into the hillside with only a northern exposure.
 There are also several large solar farms in my area, where they've taken fields and filled them with rows and rows of solar panels. I haven't seen any specs on their energy production though. The one is located at an existing trash to steam generating station, they had a large open land area which now hosts a large array of solar panels.
 That uses up a lot of land area though, and since the frames are right on the ground (holding the panels at an angle), there's no other use for the space. Any large elevated surface is going to be the best, since the space is currently being unused, and in the case of it being a roof, is simply heating up the space below it when it could be generating power if covered with solar panels. All these silly ideas like the road sucking up money only fuel the anti-solar people who can (rightfully) point to such nonsense as a huge waste of money. A REAL breakthrough, and I'm sure this is being worked on, is a solar power generating material that can replace the traditional shingle roof. Not panels mounted to an existing roof - the entire roof covering is solar cells. Get it cost-comparative to shingles and you'd have to live in the woods or be totally nuts to not do it. For a house like mine, it would be half and half. My house is aligned almost exactly east-west, so I have one roof sloped facing south, and the other side faces north. Be nearly pointless to put solar power collection on the north side roof, but the south side gets sun all day, every day, summer or winter.

Solar shingles exist.  See http://www.dowpowerhouse.com/

They are price competitive with solar panels, but it is insane to think that something that performs two unrelated functions can compete in price with a mature technology single purpose item like roofing.

Are these a good idea.  I'm not sure.  Maybe for new construction, or when it is time to completely replace an existing roof.  Lots of longevity questions about these (snap together electrical connections?.  Hurricane wind resistance?  Replacement of individual shingles that break when and stone or tree limb hits the roof?).
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #195 on: January 26, 2016, 12:45:06 am »
Are these a good idea.  I'm not sure.  Maybe for new construction, or when it is time to completely replace an existing roof.  Lots of longevity questions about these (snap together electrical connections?.  Hurricane wind resistance?  Replacement of individual shingles that break when and stone or tree limb hits the roof?).

This is what separates 'Nice ideas' from a practical product - the needs in the real world.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #196 on: January 26, 2016, 01:50:03 am »
The good news for solar shingles is that DOW is a real company.  They have some understanding of real world problems, and since they have put their name on it and since they also expect to be around for the forseeable future they actually care if it works.  Not a slam dunk, and may never work unless there is some sort of subsidy, financial, emotional, whatever, but at least is in the could work category.
 

Online coppice

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #197 on: January 26, 2016, 06:13:32 am »
Solar shingles exist.  See http://www.dowpowerhouse.com/

They are price competitive with solar panels, but it is insane to think that something that performs two unrelated functions can compete in price with a mature technology single purpose item like roofing.

Are these a good idea.  I'm not sure.  Maybe for new construction, or when it is time to completely replace an existing roof.  Lots of longevity questions about these (snap together electrical connections?.  Hurricane wind resistance?  Replacement of individual shingles that break when and stone or tree limb hits the roof?).
They don't have to be competitive with the cost of roofing. They have to match the cost of roofing + solar panel. They really ought to undercut that pairing, but they look a lot nicer, so matching is probably enough.

Why shouldn't a solar panel work well as a roof tile? Its faced in glass, which is a traditional material for large sloped roof areas, and ways to effectively waterproof the intersections were figured out long ago. What I find odd about all the PR pictures for Powerhouse is they stop the solar panels far short of the four edges of the roof. Why? You want the maximum amount of solar possible, and the only area you obviously can't use is the last fraction of a tile's width and height.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #198 on: January 26, 2016, 01:35:46 pm »
 For people who can do math, it only needs to be cost competitive with the combo. But for the average Joe to consider using solar roofing for his new roof, it needs to be much closer to the cost of plain roofing. There are far too many people who can't contemplate ROI or any of that, they just see regular roof, $5000, solar roof $10000 and the decision gets made. There are many people who have a tough time when their house needs a new roof, if they can barely scrape up the cost of a new plain roof, they surely aren't going to be able to afford an extra cost for a solar power roof. Yes - if you can't afford the cost of upkeep and repair you probably shouldn't own a house, but the situation does come up far too often in many US states where people have owned their home for 40 years, it's long been paid off, but the school taxes are nearly impossible to pay once they've retired and living off retirement savings. But this is not to go into tax discussions, this is about solar power development and what can increase overall deployments  - that is the true goal, the more appealing and affordable it is, the more people will buy into it, and the more people that buy into it, the better for everyone. Wasting money on trying to use existing materials as a road just turns people off, as they see money being wasted on ideas that seem silly even to the non-engineer (even if for the wrong reasons - ie, "what idiots, they think glass can handle trucks running over it?") and in the general public that translates into the idea that ALL solar is a waste of money (because the sun doesn't shine at night!). We have to remember, we are not the average population here. Most everyone who can be bothered to watch Dave's videos and get something from them, and participates here, is going to be someone who actually uses their brain and can think and reason things out. Mostly  :-DD
 

Offline neotesla

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Re: EEVblog #681 - More Solar Roadways BULLSHIT!
« Reply #199 on: January 29, 2016, 09:31:30 pm »
Dave, you'll love this.

France to pave 1000km of roads with solar panels

"...sanctioned by France's Agency of Environment and Energy Management". Somehow, I thought so.
 


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