Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems: Technology, Planning, and Operations. Special issue: Intelligent Transportation Systems Applications for the Environment and Energy Conservation, Part 2 (2013), 17(3): 210-220.


Copyright 2013, Taylor and Francis. Used by permission.


The transportation industry consumes about 28% of the total energy consumed by all sectors in the United States. This paper proposes a renewable wind power system (RWPS) as an alternative power source for signalized traffic intersections. The proposed system can be mounted onto the existing transportation infrastructure to provide reliable green electricity. Large-scale implementation of such a system has the potential to dramatically change the role of the public right-of-way system from an energy consumer to an energy producer, which will reduce the transportation system operating costs and promote the development of greener roadways.

This paper provides a framework to investigate the physical and economic feasibility of installing the proposed RWPS. Methodologies to conduct structural analysis, site selection, and economic analysis are developed and presented. A test intersection in Lincoln, Nebraska, is used to demonstrate the application of evaluation procedures. The proposed RWPS has two benefits: i) the power generated by the system can support the existing traffic signals and any excess power produced can be sold back to the power grid, and ii) it also provides a source of backup power in case of grid failures, increasing the reliability of traffic operations. The paper presents the methodology to ascertain the economic benefits of an RWPS for both the cases described above. The costs and benefits of providing a RWPS are stated in terms of dollar values. The decision to install a RWPS at a specific site can thus be made using a benefit-to-cost ratio.

The case study shows the RWPS is economically feasible at the subject intersection in Lincoln, Nebraska. The results also show that installing an RWPS at intersections with frequent power supply failures would result in higher benefit-to-cost ratios. In the event of budget constraints, the methodology developed in this paper can be used to prioritize the investments based on the benefit-to-cost ratios for the prospective sites.