Oregon’s new solar powered highway reinforces the state’s commitment to sustainable renewable energy. It takes a lot of energy to power Oregon’s state transportation system--about 45 million hilowatt-hours. Developers just broke ground on the renovations to the interchange at Interstate 5 and Interstate 205 in Tualatin to install an 8,000 square-foot solar photovoltaic system.
The solar panels will produce electricity during the day, sending it back to the Portland General Electric grid. At nightfall, PGE will return an equivalent amount of electricity to the highway to keep the area lit. This exchange of solar power will supply about 28% of the kilowatt hours needed to light the interchange.
This sustainable highway project is an all-Oregon effort. All building materials, including the essential solar panels, are provided by Oregon companies, stimulating the local economy.
The solar highway is the first of its kind in the United States, but similar highways are already in place in Switzerland and Germany. Oregon’s solar powered highway is set to be completed in December 2008.