Missouri on pace for first solar roads

TOWN & COUNTRY, MO (KPLR) - Solar panel pavement may be the future of Missouri roads.  The Missouri Department of Transportation along with a startup company in Idaho, Solar Roadways are experimenting with the technology that's the first its kind in the country.

MoDOT started the 'Road To Tomorrow Initiative' about a year ago to generate new innovations that have the possibility of creating a new revenue stream for transportation.

One focus is the creation of energy through public roadway.

That's where Solar Roadways comes in.

The company is researching how much energy solar panels can generate laid flat (as they would be on roads) compared to a traditional angled solar panel in Town and Country.

"I am really hopeful that it will succeed. It can create a lot of good things right here in the state of Missouri," said Tom Blair, Road To Tomorrow Initiative Leader with MoDOT.

Blair says the solar roads have the potential to pay for themselves because of the electricity they can generate and turn into revenue.

Not only that, but a heating element can be incorporated into each panel to melt away snow and ice.

Blair says right now, MoDOT spends between $40-$50 million each winter season to plow snow from roads and de-ice.

Before taking the technology to the interstates, MoDOT plans to start small, with a solar sidewalk at a welcome center in Conway, Mo. They expect that $100,000 project paid for by a grant, to be complete before the year's end.