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Community / Public space

The Spanish authorities are installing solar-powered streetlights

The inefficiency of public lighting has recently come under some scrutiny. In parts of Europe, street light alone costs local councils between 20 and 50 per cent of their energy bill, which, we can all agree, is money that could be better spent elsewhere.

So it should come as no surprise that a designer has produced a streetlight that takes all its energy from the sun and wind, rather than the cash-strapped public purse. The lights are set to be rolled out in different areas of Spain; if all goes well, they will be the first autonomous, publicly funded street lighting system in the world. 

The self-powering lampposts were dreamt up by Ramon Bargalló, a researcher at the Barcelona College of Industrial Engineering. 

The 10m tall posts are topped by twoi mini solar panels and a single wind turbine, which has a maximum output of 400 watts:

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All of this, of course, raises the important question of what happens if there’s a cloudy, windless day. The lamp posts do also include a battery which stores excess energy until it’s needed, which should cover this eventuality. And when the streetlights are installed large numbers, they will also automatically send reports to a central station, so engineers will at least know if it doesn’t. 

If the roll-out goes successfully, and lights don’t randomly start turning off in the middle of the night, the technology could become more widespread. And then everyone will be happy, like this young family rejoicing near one of the prototype lamps:

Aww.

Images: Eolgreen.
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