First Autonomous Public Lighting System That Runs On Solar + Wind Energy Developed

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What is — according to its creators — the first autonomous industrialized public lighting system running on nothing but solar and wind energy was recently developed by researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, in cooperation with Eolgreen.

The system — which is designed for use along inter-urban roads and motorways, and in urban parks and various public areas — is reported to reduce total costs by as much as 20%, as compared to conventional systems.


Here are the details of the new system, via a recent press release:

The prototype is 10-meters high and is fitted with a solar panel, a wind turbine and a battery. The turbine runs at a speed of 10 to 200 revolutions per minute (rpm) and has a maximum output of 400 watts (W). The developers’ aim is to make the lighting system even more environmentally efficient, so work is being done on a second prototype generator that runs at a lower speed (10 to 60 rpm) and has a lower output (100 W). An electronic control system manages the flow of energy between the solar panel, the wind turbine, the battery and the light.

“It takes very little wind to produce energy. The generator that has 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,” states creator Ramon Bargalló, a researcher in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Barcelona College of Industrial Engineering of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.

The system can reportedly provide up to 6 nights of electricity with no wind or sun.

As it stands, Eolgreen has already signed agreements with the port of Huelva, the municipal authorities of Sant Boi de Llobregat + Girona, and a number of towns in Andalusia. The company is planning to produce ~700 of these street lights in 2015.

Image Credit: Eolgreen/Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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19 thoughts on “First Autonomous Public Lighting System That Runs On Solar + Wind Energy Developed

  • The solar panels power the lantern, the turbine stands and looks pretty.

    Come on. We’ve seen hundreds of these, all using some ‘revolutionary’ improvement of the good old Savonius/Darrius turbine. None work, which you could tell just by looking at a fluid mechanics textbook.

    1,7m/s sounds good, until you consider that it’s laminar wind flow (if standard testing procedures are followed) and thus cannot be translated to the turbulent flow encountered in the real world at such low mast height. And wait until you start factoring in the added turbulence each turbine generates for its neighbors.

    Oh, and 6 hours on battery? Not enough for most of the world.

    Here’s an idea: build a big turbine outside of town. You know, the kind that works. Enjoy.

    • The article reported “up to 6 nights of electricity with no wind or sun”, not 6 hours.

    • Stone age people used incandescent lamps that will not last long on solar power. today’s modern people uses highly efficient LED’s and they can be powered by very inefficient savonius turbines. With Solar Power, these LED lamps can last for about a week at a full sunshine day’s recharge!

      Eliminating the giant turbine and the cables that ran from them to the lamps is key to bringing the costs down.

    • Perhaps autonomous refers to their operation not just staying charged? Motion as well as photo sensors only turning them on when necessary in lightly trafficked areas (such as the proposed sites mentioned in the article), would mean very low power requirements in the long run. Thus able to be met by the panels and. ‘inefficient’ turbine for six nights, not. ‘hours’. Not all needs are always best served by bigger and better and the requisite expensive infrastructure..

  • How can this possibly cut costs by 20% compared to a conventional LED street lamp running off the grid? Typical streets have power cables under the pavements anyway. I suggest the market is mayors wanting to make green fashion statements.

    • Perhaps by eliminating the grid conductor. They did report it was designed for “inter-urban roads and motorways”.

      It seems like the primary compelling benefit here is that you can just stab it anywhere without further infrastructure requirements.

      It could also probably be engineered to dispense with a traditional footing and simply be screwed into the ground like a helical pier.

    • You don’t have to run the wires. Dig a trench, put wire in. On and find a place to connect to. I know a while back a Nuke, plant went with solar power lamps because it was cheaper than running the wire along the fence. And they of course had power on site. Call you local power company and ask how much to run a power line to a home you planning to build a mile off the existing grid.

    • Well, you won’t need to build a grid that goes to nowhere, funded in full by the ratepayers, and then siphoning off the power from the utilities that installed them, subsidized by the same ratepayers.

      For example, this will be applicable in remote camping areas, scenic hiking trails. In many parts of the world, installing the distribution wires would be too costly.

      Here in California, we had electric utility extend to a new vineyard, from a neighbor 100 yards away that already has a utility hookup, we were billed $100,000 by the utility, and that was ten years ago when solar was still very costly and we need to power our water pumps. We were quoted $250,000 for installation of high capacity Solar powered pumps, solar PV, and battery storage system that will do the irrigation job. So the utility was cheaper. Today, it would have cost us about $85,000.

      The point is, extending the utility lines from the grid to the lamps by a hundred yards would be an enormous cost billed by the utilities.

  • The system can reportedly provide up to 6 nights of electricity with no wind or sun.

    Looking at a quality LED street light supplier (Cree) there smallest LED street light uses 53W of power. The brightest light 168W. To get 6 nights of power which I would assume is 8 hours a night you would need at least one Lead acid car battery. Where is that located. Not in the pole. Without knowing the light output or the output of the solar panels the claims can not be verified. Buy my best guess it puts out less than 53 watts of light and the solar panels alone probably struggles to keep the battery charged. .

    • Sorry, but are you really trying to say because this brief story hasnt given you all the information, it therefore couldnt work because of your rudimentary guesses? How did you come to the conclusion they were using lead acid car batteries? Even if they were, they could be housed in the base and or underground (it would recquire some kind of anchoring).

      There is nothing wrong with asking questions/critiquing poor designs, but the message boards here sometimes get far to critical. Its almost like a race as to who can discredit each story the quickest, and not always using science.

      • What I did was determine the typical power requirement for the light and then estimated the solar output based on the size of the panels and then calculated the amount of power needed to keep the light on for 6 days. No mater how you do the numbers they don’t work out Those solar panels cannot supply enough power to run the light for 6 days.

        Furthermore the claim that it is the first Autonomous light is false. A simple search of the web would show that a lot of companies make solar powered streat lights, Including PHilips. Contains details on the light output number of solar pannel and battery information. Guess what None of the Philips Autonomous LED streat lamps can run for 6 days without any power imput. They can only run one day.

        PS The wind turbine on top is more for show. It is simply not big enough to generate the kind of power they claim.A off the shelf horizontal wind turbine from a respectable manufacture would need a rotor diameter of about 1 meter or more to generate the power they claim.

  • Smart move… traffic itself, depending upon the size of each vehicle and it’s speed, is probably going to create at least some breeze to charge the battery for the LED. And this is just the first gen. Next gen batteries and other efficiencies as they mentioned will only make it more attractive as time goes on.

    Point of use simply makes more sense for relatively low power uses such as nighttime only lighting.

    Two possible options: Geothermal supplement as the pole would need to stick into the ground anyway (an underground vent through the pole to the turbine could provide a sufficient enough breeze), also inexpensive motion sensors on each pole to light up the path only as traffic comes by.

  • Because the design does not need a power source, you can put these anyplace, for example a place with net zero housing and light up all the streets in that area.
    Or on a large farm, with motion sensors, to scare predators.

  • This is very pretty, but there are a couple of odd things. Where are the bird teeth? The jagged metal “teeth” that sit at the top of the solar panel to prevent birds perching on top of them? And if the example in the picture is meant for Andalusia the panels need to be at a steeper angle because stand alone solar lights needs their panels set for maximum winter production, for obvious reasons.

    And of course given the cost and reliability of solar panels it would be much easier to just use them and do without the little wind turbine. But this is Spain, so is it possible to put a spin on this turbine? Are mini turbines a way for common folk to produce electricity without falling foul of the anti-rooftop solar gestapo? Some kind of loophole? Just wondering if promoting mini wind turbine production to stick it to the man is an ulterior motive for sticking them on top of these lamps, because it’s hard to think of a practical reason.

    And this might be the first street light to run off solar and wind energy, but the first street lights running of solar alone that I’m aware of were in China about 20 years ago. (They had a toe in the PV water even back then.)

  • Solar panels are facing the wrong way. Fail!

    • Looking at the shadow direction of the post, and the shadow length of the terrain across the road…
      If the camera perspective was facing north by northeast (as the panels would imply if they faced south in Spain)… the sun would need to arc from right to left… pretty much staying well behind the camera position by sunset

      The panels are way off.

      • Yes, it is a photoshop fail.

  • I might have made them all PV. With enough panels and storage they could be very useful.

  • hello!our company is doing solar light

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