'Sin city' has a new virtue to be proud of: an innovative off-the-grid street lighting solution from New York City-based EnGoPLANET that is powered by footsteps, with a little help from the sun.
The first of its kind, these solar-kinetic street lamps have been installed on Boulder Plaza in the Arts District of Las Vegas. The lights offer cities a smart alternative to traditional street lighting.
According to EnGoPLANET's website, street lights are responsible globally for over 300 million tonnes of carbon emissions per year (and some 40 billion USD per year in energy costs). Between 20 and 40 per cent of a city's energy budget is estimated to be spent on outdoor lighting alone. By relying 100 per cent on renewable energy, these smart streetlights can not only help cities meet their climate change responsibilities, but also help them cut down on their costs too.
Solar-kinetic streetlights tap into the energy of the sun, and the power of pedestrian footsteps (in the same way as wind turbines transform the kinetic energy of wind into electricity). Walkways are fitted with special tiles or pads that sit atop a mechanical component. Each time a person steps, it triggers a mechanism that produces electricity. Each footstep can, according to EnGoPLANET, generate between four and eight watts of energy. Using the most efficient solar cell technology currently available to maximise the sun's input, and deploying the latest LED technology, these lamps are designed to produce very bright light with only minimum energy use.
Installed along busy pedestrian zones, such as corporate and university campuses, plazas, or foot bridges, these smart lamps allow people to produce clean and free energy without even realising it! Further equipped with a WiFi internet connection, and two USB ports and wireless charging pads, each street light also allows people to use and charge-up their mobile devices cleanly and freely while on the go.
A remote online management and monitoring software enables battery-status checks, and light-dimming functions, as well as fault notifications and the delivery of other information reports. Smart sensors installed on the poles can also collect temperature, air quality and humidity data, and all data can be seen online and in real time.
The technology can not only help cities to generate clean and cheap lighting, but its remote management software allows for real-time issues identification and quick management. And as pedestrians see their direct contribution to light generation, these systems are also a great educational and awareness-raising, as well as empowering tool: in the smart city of the not-so-distant-future we the people have a tangible role to play in clean and sustainable energy generation.