Oregon is once again taking the lead with renewable energy by installing the country’s first highway solar energy project. The project will consist of a 104 kW solar photovoltaic system that covers 8,000 square feet and produces 112,000 kWh each year. That’s 28% of the energy needed to power the project’s location, the Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 interchange in Tualatin.
Electricity for the interchange will be provided by PGE. The solar panels will come into play by producing electricity during the day, giving the power to the PGE grid, and getting the equivalent amount of power back at night from PGE to power lighting on the highway.
The whole project will literally be Oregon-powered, as companies based in-state will provide materials, design, and installation.
Next year, the Oregon Department of Transportation plans to look at more highway project proposals. Eventually, the department would like to generate 2 million kWh every year with the new projects. They also are looking for proposals that showcase new ways to utilize solar energy, such as solar panels that double as sound walls near highways.
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Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.