The Solar Tollway

solartollway

A toll highway in Denver has become a clean energy powerhouse.
  
A series of solar panel arrays covering a 25km stretch of the E-470 was commissioned late last month. 
  
Generating electricity to power streetlights, signs, toll collection equipment, toll plazas, maintenance facilities and the E-470 Administrative Headquarters; the installations at 22 sites along the highway are expected to harvest enough solar energy to power a third of the toll road’s operations.
   
Electricity production in the first year is estimated to top one million kilowatt hours (kWh). 
   
Over a 20-year period, the E-470 Solar Project will avoid emitting 24,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to burning 61,000 barrels of oil. 
  
Built under a power purchase agreement with Excel Energy, the panels were installed at no cost to the owners of E-470, who have committed to purchase electricity generated by the arrays for 20 years.  
   
Like the sea of rooftops in our towns and cities, our roadways also provide a massive resource for power generation – putting land that would otherwise have little use to creating electricity closer to the point of end consumption.
   
Taking the concept of solar roads a step further, we may even see roads themselves becoming solar electricity generators in the future.
  
Solar Roadways is developing special solar panels that act as a road surface. According to the company, if all asphalt surfaces in the U.S. hosted solar panels, they would generate three times more power than the US consumes – almost enough to power the entire world.
  
In 2009, Solar Roadways was awarded a contract from the Federal Highway Administration to build the first Solar Road Panel prototype. Last year, the company was awarded a follow-up 2-year contract to construct a prototype parking lot that will be tested under all weather and sunlight conditions.