When a private business screws up, they run the risk of going out of business. When the government screws up, you can’t even expect anyone to get fired over it.
Meet the latest green energy boondoggle — a $4.3 million solar project the taxpayers of Idaho are on the hook for. What exactly was the project? Many years ago, you may have been one of the millions to see a viral YouTube video extolling the benefits of a futuristic concept: solar roadways. The concept was simple; we have millions of miles of roadways — why not build them from solar panels so they can power the nation?
Actual scientists were quick to poke holes in the concept. For example, how do you build solar panels that can withstand the wear and tear that our roadways do? (Anyone curious for a lengthy explanation of why solar roadways are impossible can view this lengthy video from British scientist Phil Mason).
Of course, criticism from the scientific community was no match for a state government bent on using taxpayer dollars to fund what was essentially nothing more than a cool concept from a YouTube video.
And the results of that endeavor? The Daily Caller has been keeping track of the score:
An expensive solar road project in Idaho can’t even power a microwave most days, according to the project’s energy data.
The Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways project generated an average of 0.62 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per day since it began publicly posting power data in late March. To put that in perspective, the average microwave or blow drier consumes about 1 kWh per day.
On March 29th, the solar road panels generated 0.26 kWh, or less electricity than a single plasma television consumes. On March 31st, the panels generated 1.06 kWh, enough to barely power a single microwave. The panels have been under-performing their expectations due to design flaws, but even if they had worked perfectly they’d have only powered a single water fountain and the lights in a nearby restroom.
Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways has been in development for 6.5 years and received a total of $4.3 million in funding to generate 90 cents worth of electricity.
It’s been a long and painful journey for the project. Back in October when “only” $3.9 million had been spent, 25 out of the 30 solar panels installed were broken within a week, making them unusable for driving.
The particular project in question was funded by the State of Idaho Department of Commerce and the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency, though there’s no mention of how much funding they provided.
For the millionth time, those in power have decided to blow money on what sounds good rather than what works.
[Note; This post was written by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]