Solar Roadways shines in contest's popular vote

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Scott Brusaw shows off his prototype’s programmable LEDs (Photo courtesy MARK DIXON).

SAGLE — Fans of Sagle residents Scott and Julie Brusaw’s Solar Roadways concept have cause to rejoice with their announcement that they’ve won the General Electric Ecomagination Challenge’s popular vote.

As the most popular clean energy solution in the challenge, the Brusaws will receive $50,000 to continue their project development.

“We received an e-mail from GE on Wednesday that informed us we were the clear leader in votes,” Scott Brusaw said.

The Ecomagination Challenge, however, isn’t an all-out victory for the Brusaws yet. GE has yet to announce the winners of their innovation awards in five categories, each carrying an award of $100,000. And the real money from the challenge rests on GE’s selection of ideas to officially sponsor, an announcement that could place up to $200 million in Solar Roadways’ coffers. With that kind of money, the Brusaws could begin to implement their idea on a small scale.

“That’s the announcement that we’re really waiting for,” Brusaw said. “But still, the $50,000 is a great start.”

The GE Ecomagination challenge ultimately attracted more than 3,500 ideas. Solar Roadways, however, was one of the earliest concepts to be submitted, and it already had a significant following through press coverage and a popular Your Environmental Road Trip Youtube video.   More than 74,000 people voted in the challenge, and after the suspicious votes that violated GE’s regulations had been removed, Solar Roadways proved the clear victor.

“This is a great first step that will help us cover our travel costs and other expenses,” Brusaw said. “We’re excited to continue working toward the next big development.”

The Brusaws have been developing the Solar Roadways project for the past four years. Their system involves covering roadways with smart solar panels resilient enough to be driven over and pervasive enough to power the nation three times over. These panels would improve driving safety, distribute clean energy and data, and reduce emissions by making electric cars viable option.

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