The Geelong Drive-In is dedicated to using modern technologies to reduce its carbon footprint and to making a more user-friendly planet. The desire to act this way comes from the team’s belief that all businesses should contribute to the community that support them.
One of the major ingredients in most drive-ins is asphalt. It covers the land so cars can park and drive and for people to walk over. It is shaped to create drainage channels and tiers to make it easy for patrons in their cars to view the screen – at night.
But what if during the day that vacant space could do more?
What if the drive-in’s viewing area became a huge solar panel?
Imagine, not bitumen, but solar panels to walk over and drive your cars on! No, it’s not from Star Trek or Blade Runner. The technology is here and now. And for a drive-in the timing is perfect – movies are viewed at night!
First conceived in 2006 in America, this technology is now most suited to applications where vehicle speeds are low. The technology combines a transparent driving surface with underlying solar cells, electronics and sensors which act as a solar array with programmable capability. It has received numerous accolades including –
- 2010 EE Times Annual Creativity in Electronics Awards “Most Promising Renewable Energy Award” as a category finalist,
- 2013 World Technology Award finalist,
- 2014 Popular Science “100 Greatest Innovations of the Year” in the Engineering Category.
In The Netherlands, it has been successfully trialed on a bike path where the road surface is made of prefabricated solar panels under a surface of 10mm friction-enhanced hardened glass. The energy collected from this site is then distributed to local houses.
To be fair, this technology is still a little way off broad scale applications but it represents one of the cutting-edge power creation solutions under consideration by the Geelong Drive-In. If you are aware of others, please let us know so that we can investigate to ascertain the viability and suitability for the drive-in’s purposes.
The Geelong Drive-In Team.