No, that’s not an elaborate new Lite-Brite kit– that’s the possible future of energy. After years of work (and some last-minute delays), Solar Roadways has installed its first public energy tiles in Sandpoint, Idaho as part of a test. On top of producing a light show, the panels will generate power for the fountain and restrooms in a public square. They have heating elements, too, so they should keep running even in the heart of winter. And if you’re not sure how well they’ll work in practice, you can check on them yourself — Sandpoint has a live webcam pointed at the tiles.
It’s a modest dry run with just 30 panels, and it’ll be a long while before you see them on the streets they were designed for. However, it shows that they’re more than just theoretical exercises. And if a small number of tiles can power a town square by themselves, it’s easy to imagine full-fledged solar roads shouldering a significant amount of the energy demand for whole cities.