Sign my e-petition about heated roads – Click here
Much of the UK woke up this morning to a couple of inches of snow and I can imagine that for many people the daily commute to work was a nightmare. Our roads are clogged at the best of times and all it takes is a minor incident like a broken down vehicle to cause absolute mayhem. The situation is even worse when the snow falls. It can take hours to travel a distance that would normally take minutes and the situation is compounded by drivers who do not know how to drive in snow.
I have often thought that there has to be a better way to keep our roads clear of snow, ice and frost in winter so I did a bit of investigating using Google. I have often thought that heated roads would be a great idea, and now I have discovered that the technology does actually exist ! In summer our tarmac road surfaces generate an incredible amount of heat. If you have ever touched or walked barefoot across a tarmac road you will have noticed that the road surface is very hot, that is because tarmac acts as a giant solar panel.
In Holland they are experimenting with tarmac heating. Approximately 33m sq of tarmac is required to heat each 100m sq of a house. A small area of tarmac (10 x 40m) can generate 108mW of energy per annum.
The system works by storing heat in aquifers in the ground and then it can be pumped up for heating purposes in the winter. In addition co2 emmissions are reduced by between 50% and 90% and there are many other benefits as well.
Typically, an airport runway could heat 2500 homes !
It’s been calculated in Holland that if 15% of Dutch roadways had the Road Energy System, more energy than all the combined utilities in Holland would be produced.
The lifespan of roads is prolonged about two-fold as they can be kept cool during the summer and frost-free during the winter. Resurfacing costs are typically halved as maintenance is reduced accordingly. Traffic jams are decreased as there’s reduced road maintenance and bad weather doesn’t impede drivers as badly.
Icy surfaces don’t have to be sprayed with salt – an obvious cost saving for local authorities and an ideal solution for airports (it’s not possible to spray airport runways with salt; the Road Energy System resolves the problem of ice on runways).
I think that it is solutions like this that need to be looked at. There will be an initial cost but the long term cost benefits are considerable. Even if a small percentage of the UK road network can be heated then our most important bits of the road network can be kept running.
Click here to sign my heated roads e-petition
The following photo is how snow free heated roads would look.