Streetlights are fixture of cities and towns across the world — they literally guide us through the night. But even new LED streetlights require a large amount of energy, because they run all night long, 365 days per year. To deal with that problem, the University of Seville in Spain has developed a streetlamp that is powered not only by the sun, but that also harnesses wind energy. The Holonic Streetlamp is a completely off-grid streetlight that is powered by photovoltaic solar panels and a small, vertical-axis wind turbine.
The idea of taking streetlights off the grid isn’t a new one; we’ve profiled efforts by Phillips and others to develop solar-powered streetlights in the past. The trouble that most of these prototypes encounter is that cloudy days can prevent them from being able to store enough energy to run all night. The Holonic Streetlamp, invented mostly by María Jesús Ávilais, seeks to overcome that by adding a small wind turbine. (And they can of course be connected a municipal power system if needed.)
According to Gizmag, energy generated by the wind turbine and solar panels is fed into a pair of 12-volt lead gel batteries that are stored in an underground compartment beneath the lamp. The lamp has sensors to detect when it gets dark out, prompting it to automatically switch over to battery power. The system can reportedly withstand winds of up to 87 mph, and the LEDs can last for about 50,000 hours. Now if only we could find a way to integrate this technology into existing streetlights.