US States to Harvest Clean Energy From Highways

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Photo via Solar Power Rocks

Roads are teeming with possibilities for clean energy generation--they could be lined with small wind turbines, accompanied by solar arrays, even generate energy from speed bumps. And as this potential is growing in recognition, a number of states have jumped on board with some fascinating projects designed to harvest clean energy from their roadways. According to Green Inc,

A few states are already dabbling in roadside energy production. Last year, Oregon began a "solar highway" demonstration project with a 104-kilowatt ground-mounted solar array situated at the interchange of Interstates 5 and 205. The array powers about a third of the lights on the interchange. Massachusetts recently announced a plan to install a utility-scale wind turbine — big enough to power 400 households — on land adjacent to the Massachusetts Turnpike's Blandford Rest Area.
And states with thousands of miles of roads through relatively barren land (read: California) stand to reap huge benefits by harvesting energy from roads--and entrepreneurs have taken note.
Researchers and designers are also toying with ways to generate power along roads, including the use of piezoelectric materials, energy producing speed bumps and integrating wind turbines into road barriers.
Even solar powered studs that light up at night to improve road safety, though they won't be generating any energy to send to the grid, are ideas worthy projects.

While some of these ideas are dubious at best (see Lloyd's takedown of piezoelectric roads for proof), many offer intriguing possibilities for expanding the potential of the clean energy world. And companies stand to reap the benefits if they can capitalize on this potential.

The private company Green Roadway is particularly interested in developing clean energy technology for the states:

The project's patent portfolio includes specifications for small wind turbines — 25 feet high or less — powered by both natural wind and the "dirty wind" generated by passing cars and trucks. Another patent covers the deployment of millions of tiny turbines an inch in length or less that could be attached to median guardrails, road signs or noise-barrier walls.
But such innovation won't come cheap:
A state-by-state auction of their intellectual property portfolio will take place this Friday, with minimum reserve bids that range from $125,000 for South Dakota to $1.5 million for California.
Whether states choose to buy these specific roadside clean energy projects remains to be seen--but merely the fact that more governments are seeking such innovative ways to generate renewable energy is encouraging.

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Further Thoughts on Turning Road Traffic Into Electricity

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