Parking lots of the future

Why is it that the Dutch and the Danish are doing some of the coolest stuff in the world when it comes to renewable energy projects? Figured I’d point out this AP story about parking lots turned into solar sponges — basically solar thermal systems under the wheels of our cars. Here’s a description of how the lots work:

“A latticework of flexible plastic pipes, held in place by a plastic grid, is covered over by asphalt, which magnifies the sun’s thermal power. As cool water in the pipes is heated, it is pumped deep under the ground to natural aquifers where it maintains a fairly constant temperature of about 20C. The heated water can be retrieved months later to keep the road surface ice-free in winter. The same system pumps cold water from a separate subterranean reservoir to cool buildings on hot days. Though it doubles the cost of construction, the system’s first benefits are a longer life for roads and bridges, fewer ice-induced accidents and less need for repaving.”

It just makes me wonder how much could truly be done if, early in the design process of any type of municipal infrastructure, we put some creative though behind it — keeping in mind the need to capture as much renewable energy as we can.

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