Highway, light rail and airport facilities offset energy use with SolarWorld solar panels
Planners of Oregon’s transportation infrastructure are leading the nation in charting a course to a cleaner energy future by selecting SolarWorld solar panels to support their multi-modal services. With unobstructed rights-of-way and heavy energy use, transportation agencies are ideal hosts of photovoltaic systems and consumers of the renewable electricity they produce. SolarWorld’s high-performance solar panels, manufactured in Hillsboro, Ore., now power highway, rail and airport installations in a state renowned for its progressive urban planning.
“Oregon frequently wins recognition for the excellence of its transportation systems, the livability of its cities and the foresight of its urban planning,” said Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. solar producer for more than 35 years. “It is no surprise then,” Brinser said, “that forward-looking transportation agencies have not only integrated solar energy into their operations but recognized the sustainable benefits of using solar panels manufactured locally within their own state.”
Transportation industry officials in 13 countries and 27 states have requested information on a large solar park built on Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) property at the Baldock Rest Area on Interstate 5 near Wilsonville. The project went online in January and will be open to the public in the spring with an interpretive display and sustainable community garden. The 1.75-megawatt system, known as the Baldock Solar Highway project, is operated by Portland General Electric. The Baldock installation, the largest of its kind in the U.S., sits atop 7 acres of formerly unused ODOT property and is composed of 6,994 SolarWorld solar panels.
Common in Europe, solar installations in highway rights-of-way were virtually unknown in this country before ODOT and PGE developed a roadside Oregon Solar Highway pilot project to help light the way for drivers at the interchange of Interstates 5 and 205 in Tualatin, north of Baldock, in 2008.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, on hand for the Baldock project’s August 2011 groundbreaking, said of the installation, “Between this project – the largest of its kind in the nation — and the solar interchange a few miles north of here, it’s clear the road to the future starts here in Oregon.”
TriMet, Portland’s regional public transit agency, will commission a 60-kilowatt solar installation featuring SolarWorld solar panels at the South Terminus of the MAX green and yellow light-rail lines near Portland State University in late February. The system, installed by REC Solar, is the agency’s first large-scale photovoltaic installation. In addition to generating more than 64,000 kilowatt-hours of solar energy each year and helping shield TriMet from rising utility rates, the graceful, curvilinear design of the installation has been hailed as public art by some local transit observers.
PortlandInternational Airportis also home to a solar system featuring 120 SolarWorld solar panels. The 28-kilowatt ground-mount system, commissioned in December, helps power a treatment facility for the airport’s newly expanded de-icing stormwater collection system. The facility treats runoff containing the de-icing chemicals used on the airfield and aircraft to enhance flight safety when the weather turns cold. A Blue Sky renewable energy grant from Pacific Power helped cover the installation cost.
Oregon-based Advanced Energy Systems, a SolarWorld authorized installer, constructed both the ODOT and the PDX systems. “These transportation solar projects represent sound public-private partnerships for the deployment of clean and renewable energy in Oregon,” said Eric Nill, the company’s CEO. “Our team is proud to install Oregon-made SolarWorld PV modules at these sites, recognizing their positive impact on local employment and on our region’s energy independence.”