Guest post by CelticSolar
Donned in sunglasses, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski ceremoniously raises his arms in the air
In August 2008, Oregon hatched a plan to be the first US state to have highway-side solar panels. Four months later, on the snowy 19th day of December 2008, engineers flipped the switch and the system started generating a modest amount of power.
This is a 104kW system comprised of 594 panels. Its annual production is estimated to be 128 megawatt-hours – enough to power about 10 typical homes for a year. However, The Oregon Dept of Transportation (ODOT) is using it to power the lights at the I-5 & I-205 exchange.
During the day when the highway lights are off and the sun is out, the PV panels will spin the nearby electric meter backwards. The result? ODOT’s power bill for this area will be one third less than last year.
If ODOT is able to switch to more efficient highway bulbs in the future, these PV panels will account for an even larger percentage of the interchange’s electric needs.
Below is an aerial view of the panels.
While there is no publicly available energy monitoring yet, here’s January 20th, 21st, and 22nd’s power production for this system. If you are used to reading solar output charts, you can tell that the 20th was a clear sunny day (the smooth hump). The 21st & 22nd, on the other hand were cloudy.
The pilot program has gone well and is likely the first of many similar installations to come. Expect to see more solar panels along the highways of Oregon and possibly even on other ODOT facilities.
Links:Oregon Solar Highway
Last modified: January 30, 2014