A new analysis demonstrates that three Southern California counties could power over 270,000 homes by lining their highways with solar energy infrastructure.
The Environment California Research and Policy Center estimates that Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties are home to a combined 4,800 acres of available space alongside highways that could be the perfect areas for solar panels. Assuming all available land was used, solar infrastructure along these roadways could generate up to 960 megawatts.
A single interchange in San Diego could support infrastructure that would generate enough energy to power 180 homes every year.
Roadside solar energy is ideal in places where the land is already developed. Existing nearby transmission lines would allow for speedy and relatively straightforward installation of new infrastructure. Sites in Maine and Georgia have already begun installation of roadside solar energy infrastructure.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, burning dirty energy sources like coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of polluting, planet-warming gases worldwide.
The report points out that installing solar energy infrastructure alongside highways could be a “net-zero game-changer” for the state, potentially allowing California to achieve its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
California state Sen. Josh Becker endorsed the report’s proposal. “This new analysis makes a strong case for utilizing land along California’s highways to generate clean energy,” he told PV Magazine. “If just three counties have this much solar potential alongside their highways, imagine our entire state’s potential.”
Steven King, a clean energy advocate at Environment California Research and Policy Center and co-author of the study, said in a statement, “This summer’s barrage of record-breaking temperatures is an urgent reminder that we must accelerate our transition to clean energy, including solar power … Let’s maximize the productivity of our sprawling concrete jungle and drive toward a future powered by roadside solar.”
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