CA eyes freeway generator technology as new energy source


freeway generatorThe streetwise alternative energy dreams of one California officeholder have been given a tentative green light in Sacramento. If all goes well, the Golden State could roll out a technology that would turn vehicles’ rumblings over freeways into electrical energy.

“The office of L.A.-area Assemblyman Mike Gatto announced recently that the California Energy Commission has agreed to fund multiple piezoelectric pilot projects in the Golden State,” the L.A. Weekly reported. “The program’s schedule, including when ground will be broken, has not been revealed. The commission’s move follows years of research on how this might work on California’s busy freeways — and on whether it will be worth it for taxpayers. […] The state’s analysis concluded that a pilot demonstration of the technology would be the best way to determine if it’s worth our money — if we can actually squeeze some juice from concrete and asphalt.”

International precedent

Risk-averse politicians and policymakers had reason beyond the limitations of the pilot program to be cautiously optimistic. In other leading post-industrial nations, the tech being put to the test has already proven functional. “Gatto had a conversation with a friend who had just returned from Israel raving about a road that produced energy,” as the Fresno Bee noted, through the use of so-called piezoelectric sensors beneath roads and railways. “Gatto learned that engineers in Israel, Italy, and Japan had successfully installed piezoelectric sensors underneath roadways and railways. Those sensors, the size of watch batteries, are in effect the reverse of sonar: a vibration comes in, and an electric pulse goes out. Gatto said scientists estimate the energy generated from a 10-mile stretch of four-lane roadway can power the entire city of Burbank, comparable to Clovis,” the Bee added.

“You embed them right in the roadway and as cars and trucks drive over the roadway, it vibrates the road just a little bit, and these substances get charged from that,” Gatto told ABC 7 News. “It just makes sense in a car culture like ours to use that extra energy that is generated and put it to good use.”

Transforming transportation

Although environmentalist critics could be pressed to raise emissions objections to Gatto’s enthusiasm for so many cars on the road, other ongoing technological advances have begun to raise the prospect of substantially greater zero-emissions vehicles phasing out California gas guzzlers in the years to come. “Tesla’s goal of building 1 million vehicles per year by the end of 2020” — including buses and trucks — “depends on a fast-rising flow of batteries from the Gigafactory,” the company’s vast plant located in Nevada, the San Francisco Chronicle observed:

“The company has accelerated its work on the factory by roughly two years, planning to produce enough batteries in 2018 to supply 35 gigawatt-hours of electricity, the target originally established for 2020. ‘People really need to think of the factory as more important than the product itself, and with far greater potential for innovation,’ Musk said Tuesday at the plant.”

While Musk’s plans to date have focused on solar power’s applications in structures like homes, designers have also begun to turn to the sun’s energy in rethinking the way roads can be used to help power the grid. L.A.’s Michael Maltzan Architecture has proposed a tunnel overlay on a bridge section of the 134 freeway that would incorporate a host of alternate energy features, including emissions traps and rainwater collection. “A field of photovoltaic panels along the top of the tunnel would produce about 6 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually — enough to power 600 homes,” the Los Angeles Times added. “Maltzan proposes that the cost savings made possible by the solar array — an estimated $1 million per year — be similarly fed back into the city, used to boost the budgets of the half-dozen Pasadena Unified School District campuses located within two miles of the freeway bridge.”


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  1. Dork
    Dork 4 August, 2016, 08:37

    The state’s analysis concluded that a pilot demonstration of the technology would be the best way to determine if it’s worth our money

    Up Yours you simple minded Marxist clowns, if it was “Worth our Money” a PRIVATE ENTERPRISE would have Done it already and since they haven’t this is just another Boondoggle with OTHER PEOPLES MONEY.

    I propose All of these Newfangled Green Energy Projects be Backstopped by the various PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSION FUNDS, Put YOUR OWN DAMN MONEY UP, then we will see if it “Worth Our MONEY” afterwards.

    Reply this comment
  2. Sean
    Sean 4 August, 2016, 09:22

    A 10 mile stretch of freeway could power the entire city of Burbank? Two things pop into my mind, perpetual motion machine and too good to be true. Energy losses to the road only account for < 5% of the fuel used. What they are saying is a 10 mile stretch of freeway could generate a billion kWhrs per year (Burbank's electricity consumption) on less than 5% of the gasoline consumed driving down that road. Doesn't add up since the total amount of energy going to electricity generation is 40% of all energy while transporation is is 28%.

    Reply this comment
    • eck
      eck 5 August, 2016, 17:27

      The stupid, it burns! “They” are off by about 6 orders of magnitude. Just based on energy calculations. Even if these numbers were even close to correct, the cost per kWhr would be just astronomical. Another scam to separate the $ from the taxpayers wallets.

      Reply this comment
  3. Queeg
    Queeg 4 August, 2016, 09:45


    The STATE commands resource allocation for your common good and enviro/public health…the dance just began.

    Reply this comment
  4. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 4 August, 2016, 13:20

    Meantime, crony capitalism’s poster child — Tesla Motors — continues to lose bucketfuls of money while hoping for better days ahead (while always angling for more subsidies!). 4 August, 2016 WS JOURNAL:

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 5 August, 2016, 08:58

    Now if we could harness all the Hot Air coming from Moonbeam/Newsrom as well as those Hollywood wanks,DiCaprio,Luarie David Etc and Washington D.C.(Obama,Gore,Suzuki Etc)we could keep warm and comfortible all winter long

    Reply this comment
  6. Bubba
    Bubba 6 August, 2016, 08:54

    Yes Boys and Girls, our Fearful Leaders in the Never Never Land of the State Capitol, have once again come up with another grand scheme to separate the working class from what little monies they have left after all our socialist legislators have taxed us into oblivion!
    Several things come to mind:
    1. Moonbeams High Speed Rail from Modesto to Fresno that is already over budget and behind schedule and no ground has yet to be broken for this “Dream”
    2. The Delta Tunnels to divert water to the L.A. and points beyond that was just “Blessed” by the state supreme court. Which will cost taxpayers how much?
    3. How exactly do they plan to tie this “Energy Generation” into the “Grid”?
    4. If CALTRANS gets involved it take years because CALTRANS will have at least 10 people leaning on shovels and 5 trucks burning fuel and spewing pollution for everyone of these “Energy Devices”
    5. Look how long it took just to get the permits to build the Desalination Plant in Carlsbad…12 years!
    And we want to trust our state government to run this project?

    Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hopping for a different result.

    Yes this sounds like insanity to me?

    Reply this comment

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