Aug 4, 2015

Solar Sidewalk at GWU

Location: 44933 George Washington Boulevard, Ashburn, VA 20147, USA
My mom and I striking different poses
I don't know how you spent your August 2, but I spent mine driving with my mom to GW's Virginia Campus to check out their solar sidewalk. A few months ago, I read a GW Today article about the sidewalk, "GW Debuts Solar Walk on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus" and it looked FREAKING AMAZING! I had to visit.

Well, it wasn't freaking amazing. After 40 minutes of driving, paying tolls, and dealing with Virginia drivers, we arrived at the underwhelming sidewalk. It's 100 square feet, which is smaller than most people's bedrooms. Its 27 slip resistant panels aren't shiny or futuristic. The whole sidewalk produces 400 watts at peak capacity. 400 watts! That's not even enough to power 7 average light bulbs. Please. According to the above article, it powers some nearby LED lights. I looked around and wasn't seeing anything.

Basically, this is a field trip for the truly dedicated solar energyphiles. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're able to find a way to steal the sidewalk panels as a memento.

However, my mom and I made the most of this trip. We posed with the panels, did some gymnastics, and climbed an 18-panel solar trellis next to the sidewalk. Please check out this amazing 40-second video of us doing our thing.
Solar Trellis
Selfie on the solar trellis with the sidewalk on the left

We also lucked out because it's only a few miles from the beautiful and historic town of Leesburg. We had a lovely lunch at the Colonial Inn and then headed back to DC via White's Ferry, a cable ferry station that's been in operation since the 1700s! I would highly recommend that route.

As follow up, I reached out to the Spain-based designer, Onyx Solar to learn about other solar sidewalk projects. I also told the band Pomplamoose that their "Don't Stop Loving Me" music video (starting at 1:55 and 2:14) inspired my video's freeze shots on the sidewalk. There's been no response but then again, there seldom is for a solar blogger.