Las Vegas is famous for its lights, bright sunny days and copious pedestrian traffic. That no doubt made it the perfect place for clean tech startup EnGoPlanet to test new LED streetlights powered by both photovoltaic panels and kinetic footstep pads. Married with a battery, the setup not only lights up the Boulder Plaza in downtown Vegas, but also powers security cameras (yep), WiFi hotspots and portable charging stations.
The system uses a curvy photovoltaic panel "crest" to charge a battery that powers the energy-efficient LED streetlights at night (the company doesn't specify the size of the panel). It's also equipped with charging stations and WiFi hotspots. To charge the batteries at night or when the sun is behind clouds, there are the footstep-powered kinetic pads installed in pedestrian walkways. Those are connected to three micro-generators that put out 4 to 8 watts per footstep, depending on the pressure.
The units are completely standalone and not grid connected, according to an earlier press release. City workers can monitor the installation to check power and battery levels, and change the color of the LED lights for special events. It even has sensors that can do environmental and air quality monitoring and "smart analytics," which we image is some kind of foot traffic monitoring that can be used by city statisticians or advertisers.
EnGoPlanet CEO Petar Mirovic tells the Las Vegas Review Journal that the Vegas installation is just a start, and he hopes to see larger projects on the Strip or in cities like New York. "We think this can be a good substitution or alternative to traditional streetlights," he says. The company points out that streetlights generate 100 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the nearly 10 billion metric tons produced worldwide. However, we're going to need to reduce anywhere we can, and urgently, before the planet becomes a hot mess.This article by Steve Dent originally ran on Engadget, the definitive guide to this connected life.