Since its inception, The Ray has been inspired by the opportunity to maximize State DOT-owned land on roadsides and highway medians, otherwise known as the "right-of-way." In 2020, they partnered with the University of Texas at Austin and the Webber Energy Group to conduct a research report to examine the benefits of installing solar in the right-of-way (ROW).
The findings revealed that putting solar panels at these exits across the continiental U.S. could generate up to 36 terawatt hours (TWh) a year—enough to power 12 million passenger electric vehicles—with the value of the energy generated by roadside solar panels estimated at $4 billion per year. However, simply installing solar arrays at interchanges, exits, rest areas, and visitor centers—maintained by state governments—can be challenging due to safety, environmental, and future land-use considerations.
To address these concerns, The Ray partnered with Esri, the global leader in location intelligence, to configure a ROW solar mapping tool that can help transportation agencies quickly analyze how suitable and economically valuable ROW locations might be for solar development. The new mapping tool is capable of producing precise configurations of solar arrays on all types of ROW, utilizing the State DOT's own datasets. Built using Esri's ArcGIS software suite, it includes advanced 3D modeling, solar radiation calculations based on elevation and surface, and viewshed analysis.
The Ray is now working within 15 states with over two dozen transportation agencies to rethink their ROW and replicate the model of sucess they've built in Georgia as a clean highway test bed. To learn more about the amazing new tool and how The Ray is helping DOTs make the best use of their ROWs, visit theray.org/technology/solar/.