Entrepreneurs Scott and Julie Brusaw have an electrifying idea. What if all paved surfaces could produce power from the sun?

Working in small-town Idaho, the Brusaws designed futuristic roadways with support from the U.S. Department of Transportation and crowdfunding website Indiegogo. Their solar roads are a honeycomb of interlocking hexagons, with a special glass surface built to withstand the stresses of modern highways.

What’s the big idea?

Downtown Sandpoint 2
Artist’s rendering of a solar-powered road in action (Sam Cornett)
  • Zero-emission electricity: Solar roads could reduce the need for carbon-emitting power plants.
  • Smart sensors: Networked blocks illuminate lane lines and road signs, and even warn drivers of hazards.
  • A platform for innovation: Rethinking roads opens up possibilities for green technology, from stormwater management to manufacturing with recycled materials.

The couple’s company, Solar Roadways, began building after winning a federal grant designed to help small businesses explore transformative technologies. Their demonstration parking lot can withstand heavy vehicles, display road markers, and melt snow and ice.

Entrepreneur Scott Brusaw demonstrates his solar-powered parking lot. (Courtesy photo)

But Scott and Julie have bigger plans, and used crowdfunding to bring their idea to the world. Crowdfunding enables entrepreneurs to pitch ideas directly to ordinary people, who can donate or invest in promising projects.

The results were staggering. Captivated by the futuristic roadway, almost 50,000 people from 165 countries contributed to the project, donating more than $2 million.

Solar Roadways plans to ramp up production and potentially bring sustainable, solar-powered paving to the public.

Today a parking lot, tomorrow (maybe!) the world.