Renewable Energy in Highway Right-of-Way
State Departments of Transportation are increasingly exploring the use of highway right-of-way (ROW) to accommodate renewable energy technologies. The ample lands DOTs manage are often close to electrical loads and have sometimes already been disturbed, potentially making these properties ideal locations for renewable energy applications.
Highway ROW renewable energy projects can:
- Add value to ROW assets and create a revenue source for State DOTs
- Reduce greenhouse gas and other pollutant emissions
- Promote energy security by diversifying energy generation and delivery methods
- Foster the creation of a local green job market that enhances the viability of the Nation's renewable energy industry
Renewable Energy Projects Map
The following map provides a snapshot of existing highway renewable energy projects from around the country. Click on an icon for more information about a project. Please contact Carson Poe to recommend additional projects to include in the map.
Related Resources from FHWA:
- Renewable Energy Generation in the Highway Right-of-Way Briefing Book: The briefing book provides a high level overview of Renewable energy highway projects, including potential business models and funding sources, and applicable federal and state regulatory requirements.
- Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way Report (January 2012): FHWA published this report to better enable State DOTs and local public agencies to evaluate the feasibility of accommodating renewable energy technologies in the ROW. The report includes a program checklist consisting of questions that DOTs might consider in contemplating a program to accommodate renewable energy or alternative fuel facilities
- Alternative Uses of Highway ROW Webinar (August 2012): FHWA hosted a webinar on accommodating renewable energy technologies and alternative fuel facilities in the highway ROW. The webinar includes presentations from three states that have implemented renewable energy projects in the ROW: Oregon DOT's solar highway projects; Freeway to Fuels pilot projects; and North Carolina DOT's biocrop projects.
- Guidance on Utilization of Highway Right-of-Way (March 2009): In response to an increasing number of proposals to use the highway system ROW to accommodate renewable energy facilities, in FHWA issued guidance to clarify the applicability of Federal laws and regulations to such proposals.
- Program Guide on Utility Relocation and Accommodation on Federal-Aid Highway Projects (January 2003): FHWA developed this program guide to assist individuals administering Federal-aid highway programs that involve: use of Federal-aid highway funds for the relocation and adjustment of utility facilities, and the accommodation of utility facilities and private lines on Federal-aid highway ROW.
- Example Agreements: FHWA has compiled examples of lease agreements, power purchase agreements, Request for Proposals, and other related documentation that agencies have used to implement highway renewable energy projects. Please contact Carson Poe for example documents.
- Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program Results (or PDF, 424Kb) - (May 2010). FHWA established the Carbon Sequestration Pilot Program in 2008 to assess whether a roadside carbon sequestration effort through modified maintenance and management practices is appropriate and feasible for state DOTs when balanced against ecological and economic uncertainties. Findings are expected to inform DOTs that may be considering the implications of future climate change legislation or that independently want to evaluate the cost effectiveness of using National Highway System ROW to generate revenue from the sale of carbon credits, offset their own emissions, or meet statewide greenhouse gas emissions objectives.
- FHWA's Exploratory Advanced Research (EAR) Program. This program addresses the need to conduct research on longer term and higher risk breakthrough research with the potential for transformational improvements to plan, build, renew, and operate safe, congestion free, and environmentally sound transportation systems.
- Roadway Wind-Solar Hybrid Power Generation and Distribution System Towards Energy-Plus Roadways. The aim of this project is to develop a novel Roadway Wind/Solar Hybrid Power Generation and Distribution System towards energy-plus roadways, where energy-plus stands for annual energy consumption that is less than production.
- Kinetic-to-Electric Energy Conversion: The key objective of this project is to utilize piezoelectric generators embedded in the pavement to harvest electricity from the passage of traffic loads.
Other Related Domestic Resources
- Virginia DOT Solar Energy Development Project VDOT is working with the Virginia Office of Public Private Partnerships to explore opportunities to optimize the use of state-owned property, raise additional monies, and become more environmentally responsible through the implementation of solar energy systems on real estate parcels that VDOT administers. This website includes a high-level and detail-level screening reports, a request for information, and a report on a risk workshop convened in September 2015.
- An Array of Possibilities (Public Roads Magazine, September/October 2015): This article discusses the environmental and economic benefits that some DOTs are beginning to realize by using clean, renewable sources of electricity.
- Opportunities on the State Highway System to Generate Revenue or Offset Expenditures for the State of Florida (October 2013): This report presents the state-of-the-practice of value extraction projects and initiatives in highway ROW in Florida. It also offers a screening tool for Florida DOT to use in implementing three high-priority value extraction projects chosen including (i) solar photovoltaic, (ii) LED lighting, and (iii) haying or planting in highway ROW.
- Guidance on extracting value from Texas DOT's land holdings (July 2012): This report identifies when, where, and under what circumstances Texas DOT should pursue the implementation of value extraction applications and how to effectively recognize and involve key stakeholders.
- Alternative Energy Resources for the Missouri DOT(January 2011): This research investigates environmentally friendly alternative energy sources that could be used by MoDOT in various areas, and develops applicable and sustainable strategies to implement those energy sources.
- Guidebook for Designing and Managing Rights-of-Way for Carbon Sequestration and Biomass Generation TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 804 explores the operational concerns, programmatic issues, and market conditions associated with utilizing highway ROWs to develop carbon sequestration projects. These projects are designed to generate saleable carbon offsets or to grow marketable biomass for sale into bioenergy markets. The Guidebook is accompanied by a Feasibility Toolkit, available on CD-ROM, which may assist users with modeling a proposed project's financial viability that the user can modify to develop a customized analysis.
- Massachusetts DOT Solar Photovoltaic Energy Program Overview - The MassDOT is working to implement a state-wide Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Program. The purpose of the program is to build ground-mount solar PV generation facilities at multiple state-owned properties within the state highway layout throughout Massachusetts. A minimum of 6 MW of solar power generation systems will be provided from this multi-site project.
Related International Resources