Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oregon tests "solar highways"

So Oregon, which has about half of the average annual sunlight as Wyoming, is turning one stretch of interstate into a "solar highway." You might wonder why Wyoming can't do something that Oregon can. For one thing, Wyoming produces most of its and the nation's energy the old-fashioned way, by burning coal. The coal and oil and gas lobbies would never stand for it. Second, Wyoming is running out of highway funds, so it is concentrating its road efforts more on patching the holes than on rebuilding infrastructure or trying new things. Third, Oregon's a blue state with progressive environmental policies and Wyoming isn't. Maybe Colorado, another sun-drenched Rocky Mountain state, will pick up on this idea.

From Grist:

Okay, we know YOU ride your bike everywhere. But the country’s 4 million miles of roads, and 50,000 miles of interstate highway, probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Isn’t there anything productive we can do with this giant car playground? Well, we can cover it with solar photovoltaic panels, so it’s at least providing some energy.
Oregon's already testing the idea, installing panel arrays along highway shoulders. Others want to embed the solar panels directly into the road surface, and have already received funding to test the idea. California wants to try it along parts of Route 101. 
 If you think about it, roads are a perfect place to put solar: They're already public land, they've already been cleared and graded, they're adjacent to infrastructure like towns and power lines, and they're super accessible for repair and upgrades. Also, they’re already sitting out in the sun all day. 

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