Driving on the 'Solar Highway' : Oregon Builds USA's First Roadside Solar Energy Project

oregon solar highway image
Although not large in capacity, an interesting first has taken place in the state of Oregon. Construction has started on what will be the first demonstration project of using highway rights-of-way to develop solar power. Germany and Switzerland have utilized unused spaces on the side of roads for 20 years, but until now the United States has not done so.

28% of Interchange's Electric Needs Met On Right-of-Way
The 104 kilowatt solar PV system will consist of nearly 600 solar panels covering 8,000 square feet at the Interstate 5 and 205 interchange. The project will generate 28% of the electricity needed to power the interchange’s lights and signage. Cost for the installation is $1.3 million, with the solar array expected to come online in December 2008.

The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates than 20 miles of similar solar installations will be needed to offset the 45 million kilowatt-hours needed annually to power the state’s highway system. DOT Not Permitted to Profit From Energy it Produces
For those people, like me, who immediately jump to thinking about how much land is available on the side of highways to generate power, under current law the DOT is not allowed to generate more power than it needs and sell it for a profit. So once those 20 miles of solar panels are in place, that's all there is folks.

image: ODOT

via :: Oregon DOT
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