LED street lights: The fuel of the future?

In less than 150 years, cars have transformed from clunky gas-guzzlers into sleek energy-efficient machines.

Gas GuzzlerTesla

According to new information from the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research, the global market for electric vehicles (EVs) is expanding at a growth rate of 76 percent, reaching 740,000 units earlier this year.

In consideration of this rapid increase of Teslas and other pure-battery powered vehicles on the road, debates are emerging over the best way to implement charging stations.

A team at Mini proposes the solution lies within existing urban landscape infrastructure.

During Low Carbon Oxford Week 2015, the British automotive brand demonstrated its “Light and Charge system”, a new technology that would allow EV drivers to charge their vehicles from LED street lights.

BMW

Given street lights run along the sides of most roads and are already connected to main sources of electricity, Mini’s approach has the potential to make more charging points available to drivers than there are fuel pumps currently available. The Light and Charge points could be set up at any location where there is a street light and safe parking is available.

The Light and Charge units would employ amodular LED design, proving the global widespread conversion to LED street lights could have even greater benefits for cities than just energy savings. Presuming street lights along busy main streets would be accessed most frequently, Mini says they would likely require four LED modules while street lights along quieter residential streets would suffice with only one or two.

Ease of use may be the best benefit of the Light and Charge points, however. EV drivers need only connect their vehicle using a standard charging cable then swipe a credit card to begin charging.

As the number of EVs on the road continues to grow, Mini’s showcase piece could very well become reality. Although the Light and Charge system has yet to be adopted widely, this technological breakthrough shows LED street lights could play a role in ushering in a future filled with electric vehicles.

Sapphire Industry Watch – July 31

  • Lamp runs for 8 hours on one glass of water and some salt – Treehugger: Aisa Mijeno, CEO of Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt Corp.), has developed an LED lamp capable of running for eight hours a day on one glass of water and two tablespoons of salt. The lamp was designed by Mijeno to be a practical lighting solution for people in undeveloped areas  that lack reliable access to light at night.
  • The Skysphere: New Zealander Jono Williams builds solar-powered retreat for $75,000 – Stuff.co: Construction novice Jono Williams has designed and built an app-controlled, solar-powered tower deemed the “Skysphere”. Complete with voice-controlled colored LED lighting, fingerprint locks, motorized doors and a wireless sound system, Williams said he plans to put his new expertise in green-energy design to good use by designing a fully off-grid house.
  • Seven technologies that will save the Earth – World Policy Blog: As renewable energy options become more accessible and affordable, populations around the globe are lessening their dependency on fossil fuels and turning their attention to more sustainable alternatives instead. LEDs, vertical farming and smart grids are just a few of the green technologies gaining momentum today.
  • Six ‘solar cities’ to be developed in the northeast – The Times of India: In an effort to improve India’s energy crisis and popularize the use of solar energy, the Tripura government is developing six cities in the northeast into solar cities. As part of the project, solar hot water systems and LEDs are being installed.