Economic analysis of using a renewable wind power system at a signalized intersection

Mo Zhao, Anuj Sharma, Dave G. Bernt, Joshua A. Meyer, Benjamin Dickey, Scott Rosenbaugh, Elizabeth Jones, Laurence Rilett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The transportation sector consumes about 28% of the total energy expended by all sectors in the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This article proposes a renewable wind power system (RWPS) as an alternative power source for a signalized traffic intersection. The RWPS can be mounted on existing transportation infrastructure to provide green energy. Large-scale implementation of such a system has the potential to change the role of the public right-of-way from an energy consumer to an energy producer. This article provides a framework to investigate the physical and economic feasibility of installing an RWPS. Methodologies to conduct a structural analysis, site selection, and economic analysis are developed. A case study for an intersection in Lincoln, Nebraska, is used to demonstrate the application of evaluation procedures. The benefits of an RWPS are twofold: (a) the power generated by such a system can support the operation of traffic signals and any excess power produced can be sold back to the power grid; and (b) an RWPS provides a source of backup power in case of grid failure and thus increases the traffic network reliability. This article presents the methodologies to determine the economic value of an RWPS for both cases just described. The costs and benefits of providing RWPS are stated in dollar values. The decision to install an RWPS at an intersection can be made using a benefit-cost ratio. The case study shows that the RWPS is economically feasible at the subject intersection. The results also show that intersections with frequent power failures will have higher benefit-cost ratios. In the event of budget constraints, the methodologies developed in this article can be used to prioritize the investments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-220
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intelligent Transportation Systems: Technology, Planning, and Operations
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Alternative power
  • Backup power
  • Traffic signals
  • Wind energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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