09-13-23 | News

New Report Identifies Solar Opportunities in California's Transportation System

Environment California Research & Policy Center's Report Identifies Solar Opportunities Alongside Highways in California
by Staff

A recent report from the Environment California Research & Policy Center highlights the potential of solar energy along California's highways, potentially powering hundreds of thousands of homes.

The state of California is now looking to leverage its extensive highway network to harness untapped solar energy. A report by the Environment California Research & Policy Center reveals that three Southern California counties alone possess significant solar energy opportunities within the state's highway right-of-way.

According to the report, Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties contain over 4,800 acres of suitable space for solar power development alongside highways. If these areas were covered with solar panels, they could generate enough electricity to power more than 270,000 homes annually. This represents an opportunity to add 960 MW of clean energy capacity, producing an estimated 1,960.9 GWh of electricity annually.

The report considers all land alongside highways, excluding environmentally sensitive or protected areas, roadway clear zones, and those in proximity to critical infrastructure. The Environment California Research & Policy Center suggest that focus on highway-side solar installations can lead to several advantages including:


- Speedy Implementation and Reduced Conflict: The state already controls the land in its highway rights-of-way, reducing conflicts and facilitating quick development. Moreover, these areas are often near existing transmission lines, enabling swift connection to the electric grid.

- Contribution to Clean Energy Goals: These installations contribute significantly to California's clean energy targets by reducing pollution.

- Cost Savings and Revenue Generation: California can generate revenue through lease payments and electricity generation while potentially reducing roadside maintenance expenses. Solar developers can handle maintenance, reducing costs for the state.

- Full Productivity of Highways: The Federal Highway Administration encourages utilizing state rights-of-way for renewable energy generation, noting its benefits in terms of pollution reduction, energy security, and potential revenue sources.

Several states have successfully implemented similar highway-side solar initiatives. Oregon, for instance, completed the nation's first Right-of-Way (ROW) solar installation in 2008, demonstrating the viability of such projects. Georgia boasts a 1 MW solar array along its highway, while Maine has initiated construction on three solar ROW projects.

The Environment California Research & Policy Center's report underscores the vast opportunities for clean energy integration along California's highways, driving the state towards a future powered by renewable energy.


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