SANDPOINT, Idaho — The Solar Roadways site in Sandpoint are getting an upgrade.
The Solar Roadways site encompasses 150 square feet of the Town Square. The project was intended to be a dynamic installation that would be updated with the latest product developments.
On Tuesday, Sandpoint Spokesperson Jennifer Stapleton said the concrete that served as the base for the original system panels was removed. The new panels will rest upon a newly designed recycled, rubber base.
"It's a huge step. It's both scary and very fulfilling at the same time,"said Solar Roadways Co-Founder Scott Brusaw.
Stapleton said the new SR4 panel are designed to produce 50 watts, which is up from the 36 watts from the previous model.
The new model will be the first commercially available product from Solar Roadways, Brusaw said. With a manufacturer in Ohio now on board, it's coming at the right time.
"We've got 5,000 square feet here and it's pretty much filled just to make 30 panels. So we've really outgrown this building and we need some help," Brusaw said.
Solar Roadways said they plan to install the new panels here in Sandpoint by the end of September.
The Sandpoint company envisions solar panel covered roads to not only create energy, but also light up and melt snow.
The initial $60,000 installation was funded primarily through a GEM Grant awarded by the Idaho Department of Commerce as well as a grant awarded by the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency. Stapleton said the newest panels and associated site changes are provided and paid for by Solar Roadways.
KREM 2 first met Brusaw in 2009 when his solar roadways idea was no more than a concept on a computer. He got the attention of the U.S. Department of Transportation who gave Solar Roadways a $100,000 Small Business Innovative Research Grant.
Instead of writing a research paper, Scott pounded out a prototype. By 2014, they had built the first ever solar parking lot.