Roads As Energy Producers! Not As Crazy As It Sounds

Rooftops, light poles and bus shelters are doubling as power generators, so is it really such a stretch to think that roadways could do the same thing? Thousands of miles of roads in this nation bake under hot temperatures. Surely there is a way to tap into that.

There is. Scientific American has already written about it, and Clean Technica has a fascinating piece on how researchers are starting to harvest energy from America's roads. Researchers in Rhode Island say solar panels can be affixed to median barriers and the little strip of roadway alongside them.

Existing technology also could heat the underside of bridges, melting ice and creating a power source for nearby buildings and power plants. There also is research into using new materials - think pig poop - to make roads, thus relying less on petroleum-based products.

California Gov.-elect Jerry Brown is thinking along the same lines. He wants to boost the state's green-energy profile and creating a solar highway is one way to do that, he says in his new jobs plan.

Political and budget challenges are ample, and who knows where all this will lead. But California has severe water and air pollution problems, and voters in the recent election sent a message that a future with clean energy is important to them.