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First US Solar to be Hosted by Massachusetts

Massachusetts-based Ko-Solar plans to install solar panels in places where no one will notice them, such as industrial building roofs, parking lots, and motorway sound barriers. In the Boston area, it may finally get its shot. And it will be a first for the United States. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) stated yesterday that it has signed a letter of intent to construct a highway solar noise barrier project along Interstate 95 near Lexington, which would be built on top of an existing noise barrier on Route 128.

The noise barrier chosen is on the highway’s north side. It has a length of 3,000 feet (915 metres), a height of 20 feet (6 metres), and is made of reinforced concrete. The retrofit PV system will have a capacity of 637.5 kW DC and will generate 802,000 kWh per year. This is the equivalent of providing electricity to 120 families for a year. Ko-Solar is particularly interested in transportation infrastructure, so it’s working with MassDOT on a pilot project to install solar panels on a half-mile stretch of Interstate 95 near Boston’s sound barriers.

First US Solar to be Hosted by MassachusettsOn the southbound side of I-95, metal grids will be affixed to the sides of 160 concrete sound barriers, and solar panels will be positioned at an angle. The panels will be placed facing the road. The system will be owned by Solect Energy of Massachusetts, and the MassDOT will purchase the power generated by the solar panels for a few cents per kilowatt-hour less than the standard utility cost.

The experimental project is intended to generate 800 megawatt-hours of electricity every year. That’s enough to power approximately 100 homes. The state will monitor the installation for a few years, looking at a variety of factors.

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