University installs solar-harvesting pavement

Posted by Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling

Thanks to the increasing affordability of the solar panel, we often talk about the energy-generating potential of rooftops. Just imagine if every roof was a miniature power plant, turning sunlight into clean electricity?

There’s no reason to stop at rooftops, however. With a growing ability to apply sun-harvesting technology to glass, paint, and other substances so that literally any surface can create clean energy.

George Washington University is testing this theory by installing what it’s calling the world’s first solar panelled pavement. Designed by Onyx Solar, the pavement panels will power 450 LED pathway lights beneath the panels themselves.

The 27 unique solar pavement panels form what the University calls the Solar Walk, between two of the university’s buildings, Innovation Hall and Exploration Hall.

The unique pavement panels are slip-resistant and semi-translucent, so that it’s almost impossible to tell that you’re “walking on sunshine.” While this walkway is surely just a small portion of the campus, it will help drastically reduce the school’s exterior lighting bill. It’s a proof of concept that could be expanded throughout all walkable portions of the University, reaping even bigger energy efficiency benefits.

“The Solar Walk is a great example of George Washington University’s commitment to sustainability and a reflection of the university’s forward thinking mentality,” said Eric Selbst, Senior Land Use Planner at GWU. ”We are very excited about this project and proud to be a trailblazer in the development of new methods and sustainability.”

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling