Green Energy

Massachusetts to test installing solar panels on highway sound barriers

“Why don’t we just adapt what we already have and retrofit those existing structures? Most states have sound barriers.”

Mohammed Siddiqui, Ko-Solar

Road transport. Truck and passenger car moving along the highway protected by sound barriers.

A solar panel company in Massachusetts is close to accomplishing its years-long goal of implementing renewable energy technology within existing public infrastructure systems. Ko-Solar recently announced a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to install solar energy collection panels on 160 concrete sound barriers along a half-mile stretch of I-95 outside Boston, one of the state’s busiest commuter roads. If successful, the retrofit tech could expand to countless areas across the country and provide a novel means of green, renewable energy collection.

According to Electrek, countries like Germany and Australia have already implemented similar technology, which makes its stateside introduction all the more promising. Certainly more promising than anything Tesla is offering at the moment.

Test driving the technology — If approved, construction on the metal grids that will support angled solar panels facing traffic could begin as soon as next spring. After that, the small test stretch of road will be monitored for a couple of years to ensure the panels can withstand Massachusetts’ weather while also not impeding the sound barriers’ efficacy or distracting drivers. “Government projects come along very slowly. You just have to be patient,” Mohammed Siddiqui, a partner at Ko-Solar, told Energy News Network.

All solar everything — It’s not just creative ideas like Ko-Solar’s noise barrier alterations that are paving the way for sunny roads ahead — an increasing number of electric vehicle makers are looking into the option for their own products.

Earlier this year, Subaru released teaser images for its upcoming Solterra EV that indicate more than simply a sun-inspired name for the electric SUV. Meanwhile, a new startup calling itself Lightyear unveiled a prototype solar EV clocking nearly 450-miles on a single charge, giving Tesla a huge run for its money. Then there’s... this thing, which we aren’t entirely sure about, but hey — we’re going to need to get creative with eco-friendly solutions if we’re going to make it as a species.