January 23, 2015

Solar tech paves the way to brighter roads and lower costs

In the Santa Clarita Valley, we like our well-lit roads, streets and parking lots. It makes us feel safer and makes it easier to get around after sunset. But how much do those fixtures cost us to run?

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, the most common street light fixture in America is “the 175 Watt dusk-to-dawn mercury vapor light” (2). The cost of the fixture itself is “$29.95 or even less”, it uses “210 Watts of overall energy when [you] consider ballast and other factors”, and “burns for approximately 4100 hours a year” (2).

If you multiply this approximate amount of Watts each street lamp requires (210 Watts) with the estimated 4100 hours the lights are in use per year, that’s 861 kiloWatt hours (kWh) per year per lamp (2). Now the industrial electricity rate in Santa Clarita is about “8.16 cents per kWh” (3). If you throw that number into the equation, you’ll find that it costs about $70.26 to power a single street lamp in Santa Clarita every year.

Now you can imagine when you multiply the ever-expanding amount of city street lamps by $70.26 that the costs become enormous. Of course, these high costs are paid through higher taxes on the citizens of Santa Clarita. But one researcher at the Barcelona College of Industrial Engineering, with the backing of Eolgreen, has invented a new kind of street lamp, powered by the Earth’s abundant sun and wind supply (1).

After years of research, Ramon Bargalló’s vision of an autonomous public lighting system has emerged in prototype form. According to ScienceDaily, each lamp stands “10 metres high and is fitted with a solar panel, a wind turbine and a battery...and reduces [costs] by 20% [when] compared with conventional public lighting systems” (1). The system still needs some fine tuning but the prototypes are definitely in working order and we most likely become a public works game changer.

When questioned about his creation, Bargalló states, "It takes very little wind to produce energy. The generator that’s been developed can start working at a wind speed of only 1.7 meters per second (m/s), whereas current wind turbines need more than 2.5 m/s… [and] this low intensity can provide six nights of electricity without wind or sun," he adds (1).

This combination of solar and wind is clearly a powerful one. It could save everyone an enormous amount of money and create more jobs if we start manufacturing and installing similar street lamps here in America. Eolgreen, the company supporting Bargalló, “plans to produce 700 of these street lights” this year (1).

Hopefully, policy makers and city planners around the world and right here in Santa Clarita will see the successes of Elogreen’s technology in the coming years. Maybe, we will adopt similar technologies, switch to affordably-powered city lights and lower the tax burdens on Santa Claritans.


(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150120085819.html

(2)Economic Issues in Wasted and Inefficient Outdoor Lighting.pdf

(3) http://www.electricitylocal.com/states/california/santa-clarita/


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