Clean Power highway

Published on August 13th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

48

Oregon Launching First Solar Highway in the US

August 13th, 2008 by  

highway

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.

So if you happen to have any good ideas on Oregon solar, get in touch with ODOT— they’re clearly open to progress.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. 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.



  • charlayne flagg

    The Solar Highway is a boondoggle that will costs taxpayers millions, provide a nominal amount of electricity and take over 100 years to provide a return on the tax payers investment.

    Why won’t the media report the facts?

  • charlayne flagg

    The Solar Highway is a boondoggle that will costs taxpayers millions, provide a nominal amount of electricity and take over 100 years to provide a return on the tax payers investment.

    Why won’t the media report the facts?

  • AH yes, I have been running a blog on the solar highway as a way to promote interest in it. Check it out if you don’t know much about it.

    http://www.pixnorth.com/dump1/blogs/solarhighway/blog.php

  • AH yes, I have been running a blog on the solar highway as a way to promote interest in it. Check it out if you don’t know much about it.

    http://www.pixnorth.com/dump1/blogs/solarhighway/blog.php

  • tom

    You just have to have doubts when any corporations are involved, have they ever done anything free for the common man? It will be a slow process to change this country to think green, as long as we continue to fight the big companies maybe we’ll get to where we should have been years ago. How to charge people for something they get for free is where they’re problem exsists.

  • tom

    You just have to have doubts when any corporations are involved, have they ever done anything free for the common man? It will be a slow process to change this country to think green, as long as we continue to fight the big companies maybe we’ll get to where we should have been years ago. How to charge people for something they get for free is where they’re problem exsists.

  • Barb Pedersen

    Ariel Schwartz, this article would be much better if it was written for people who don’t know about this project, rather than those who do. We have to make assumptions as to what “powering the project’s location” means, explaining acronyms – PGE – and anwering the other questions already listed in this blog. It is also unclear what this system does during the day and night in working with PGE. It would also be helpful to know if all that is going into this project really is efficient generation of electricity. Good start at presenting an interesting idea. Thanks anyway!

  • Barb Pedersen

    Ariel Schwartz, this article would be much better if it was written for people who don’t know about this project, rather than those who do. We have to make assumptions as to what “powering the project’s location” means, explaining acronyms – PGE – and anwering the other questions already listed in this blog. It is also unclear what this system does during the day and night in working with PGE. It would also be helpful to know if all that is going into this project really is efficient generation of electricity. Good start at presenting an interesting idea. Thanks anyway!

  • mark.

    cover those center dividers with thin cell sheets. every 50 miles have a power station.

  • Jimmy Ray

    Two questions:

    1. How much will this cost to install and maintain versus the current cost of electricity?

    2. Does Oregon even have sunlight?

  • Jimmy Ray

    Two questions:

    1. How much will this cost to install and maintain versus the current cost of electricity?

    2. Does Oregon even have sunlight?

  • Nick

    This is a great project with great initiative. I wonder if they have looked into LED street lights to cut power usage. There was a company from here in australia that is trialing LEDs on a new freeway in china. These can really save on the traditional sodium lamp(or similar)

  • Nick

    This is a great project with great initiative. I wonder if they have looked into LED street lights to cut power usage. There was a company from here in australia that is trialing LEDs on a new freeway in china. These can really save on the traditional sodium lamp(or similar)

  • It’s only going to be powering 28% of the road loads and such at that freeway intersection, but keep in mind that it’s being described as a “solar demonstration project”, something of a proof-of-concept that this sort of thing really can be done. Sounds like the intent is, if it goes well, to follow with more significant such projects.

    More at http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/16563

  • It’s only going to be powering 28% of the road loads and such at that freeway intersection, but keep in mind that it’s being described as a “solar demonstration project”, something of a proof-of-concept that this sort of thing really can be done. Sounds like the intent is, if it goes well, to follow with more significant such projects.

    More at http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/16563

  • solar gordon

    I’m very glad that Oregon is doing the right thing and sourcing all of the ingredients locally. It will be so much beneficial for the local economy.

  • solar gordon

    I’m very glad that Oregon is doing the right thing and sourcing all of the ingredients locally. It will be so much beneficial for the local economy.

  • Pingback: Oregon Launching First Solar Highway in the US - The Environment Site Forums()

  • ielectalk

    ohmy ….

  • Pingback: Oregon Launching First Solar Highway in the US - The Environment Site Forums()

  • ielectalk

    ohmy ….

  • Waiting for the shoe to drop,

    there is a catch, PG&E is required to produce a certain amount of their power generation from renewable energy resources, they will get massive rebates to sponsor this project. That is the reason why PGE is cooperating. Try installing solar panels on your own home or business, that is when PG&E starts to become a pain in the ass and throws many road blocks in the way when individuals start to produce their own energy.

  • Waiting for the shoe to drop,

    there is a catch, PG&E is required to produce a certain amount of their power generation from renewable energy resources, they will get massive rebates to sponsor this project. That is the reason why PGE is cooperating. Try installing solar panels on your own home or business, that is when PG&E starts to become a pain in the ass and throws many road blocks in the way when individuals start to produce their own energy.

  • Adam Weiss

    They have a long history of exploring progressive methods. Their beach clearing technology is astounding!

  • Adam Weiss

    They have a long history of exploring progressive methods. Their beach clearing technology is astounding!

  • JJ

    The tweaker wire thieves will love this new source of income.

  • JJ

    The tweaker wire thieves will love this new source of income.

  • 503

    wow, this is great. i’m proud to be an oregonian. i hope oregon will someday become the first state to have all highways run on solar energy. this is amazing! thank you ODOT!

  • 503

    wow, this is great. i’m proud to be an oregonian. i hope oregon will someday become the first state to have all highways run on solar energy. this is amazing! thank you ODOT!

  • WaitingForTheOtherShoeToDrop

    Why would PGE cooperate? Like all big corps they would sell their own mother to turn a buck. This means free electricity. There must be a catch. Waiting for the shoe to drop.

  • WaitingForTheOtherShoeToDrop

    Why would PGE cooperate? Like all big corps they would sell their own mother to turn a buck. This means free electricity. There must be a catch. Waiting for the shoe to drop.

  • “Power the highway? What does that mean?”

    Power the lights in the highway at night. Unless they’ve found some kick ass way to shoot electricity through the asphalt to power the cars … if so I’m moving to Oregon

  • “Power the highway? What does that mean?”

    Power the lights in the highway at night. Unless they’ve found some kick ass way to shoot electricity through the asphalt to power the cars … if so I’m moving to Oregon

  • Jim

    Whoops, wrong thread. Sorry.

    —-

    Sounds pretty lossy with the beam down energy dissipating with the square of the distance. Better to hang giant mirrors and do all of the transduction on the ground. Isn’t this just another source of global warming though?

  • Jim

    Whoops, wrong thread. Sorry.

    —-

    Sounds pretty lossy with the beam down energy dissipating with the square of the distance. Better to hang giant mirrors and do all of the transduction on the ground. Isn’t this just another source of global warming though?

  • Would the turbines above freeways be able to collect more power than solar panels?

  • Would the turbines above freeways be able to collect more power than solar panels?

  • Yeah how about a bulleted list of those items powered by the solar panels? Lights? OK, anything else? “112,000 kWh each year” is only enough power to provide “28% of the energy needed to power the project’s location” All the photo shows is a mountain view with no buildings and some telephone poles. Where’s the power going?

  • Yeah how about a bulleted list of those items powered by the solar panels? Lights? OK, anything else? “112,000 kWh each year” is only enough power to provide “28% of the energy needed to power the project’s location” All the photo shows is a mountain view with no buildings and some telephone poles. Where’s the power going?

  • Clark

    Well, it only says 28% of the highway? I think it’s great that they’re using solar energy to power core resources, but saying “First Solar Highway” makes it sound like 100% of the energy is solar.

    With this argument, you could say that there have been many precedents, with highway call boxes long ago powered by photovoltaics. Isn’t that a “solar powered highway”?

  • Clark

    Well, it only says 28% of the highway? I think it’s great that they’re using solar energy to power core resources, but saying “First Solar Highway” makes it sound like 100% of the energy is solar.

    With this argument, you could say that there have been many precedents, with highway call boxes long ago powered by photovoltaics. Isn’t that a “solar powered highway”?

  • Pingback: nerdd.net | news and opinion()

  • Sounds like “powering the highway” means powering the lights along the highway.

  • Sounds like “powering the highway” means powering the lights along the highway.

  • Gerry

    Power the highway? What does that mean?

  • Gerry

    Power the highway? What does that mean?

  • Many folks at ODOT are very forward thinking and sustainably minded, especially Alison Wiley. Her blog has a post about Oregon’s Solar Highway~ and countless others around the topics of global warming, transportation, living simply, and attaining happiness by focusing on what is most important in our lives.

  • Many folks at ODOT are very forward thinking and sustainably minded, especially Alison Wiley. Her blog has a post about Oregon’s Solar Highway~ and countless others around the topics of global warming, transportation, living simply, and attaining happiness by focusing on what is most important in our lives.

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