Feasibility Study of Using Solar or Wind Power for Transportation Infrastructure

Focus Area



Air Quality






Under 1 year

Research Idea Scope

The scope of the research will include a comprehensive survey of the various types of solar and wind power systems available, their ability to provide sufficient or excess power for transportation infrastructure, and the general feasibility of installing solar/wind generated powered systems. The research will focus on the following applications: highway lighting,overhead sign lighting,overhead signs with LED lettering,variable message signs, and traffic signals.

The effort will include: A review of other state and local government practices regarding the use of alternative power for their highways. A review of available information on systems and components performed by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) involved in the research project. General design approach for each alternatively powered system (such designs need to consider roadway design standards like break-away posts within the clear zone and minimum illumination levels). Life-cycle cost analyses comparing grid-powered systems to each alternatively powered system (These calculations should use, when available, unit costs from state DOT’s Cost Estimating Office or Maintenance Management System-MMS). Guidelines for performing life-cycle cost analysis when costs or designs differ from those assumed in the above analyses.

This research should not study systems that would put state DOTs in the business of generating electricity for others or evaluate changing light-level and uniformity standards.

Urgency and Payoff

The research effort will provide guidelines to design engineers regarding the availability and cost-effectiveness of alternatively powered systems for transportation applications.  The engineer can then determine when it is cost-effective to use them.  This practice will result in an overall cost savings, reduced depletion of fossil fuel, and reduced emissions of pollution and greenhouse gases.

Suggested By

F. Yates Oppermann; Colorado Department of Transportation, Environmental Programs Branch

[email protected]