Sustainable street lights

  • Britain has 7.5 million street lamps costing an estimated £500 million a year to run. Current council budget concerns are driving a streetlight blackout policy to reduce energy costs, however this occurs at an expense to inhabitants, as poor lighting is associated with an increase in fatal accidents and criminality.
  • However, the University of Seville may have found a solution. Their new “holonic street lamp” incorporates two solar panels and a vertical axis wind turbine into its design. Power generated by the panels and turbine provides all the energy the light needs to operate, and the power is piped down to underground batteries, allowing them to be used without a connection to the energy grid system.
  • The clever thing is that the lights can ‘sense’ darkness, and power up an array of LED bulbs, providing an output of up to 3,520 lumens.
  • Whilst the cost of implementation is likely to be high (current applications will have high overheads for maintenance and reliability issues), as technology progresses over time, it is expected that such issues will be overcome and therefore installation and running costs reduced.

Thus in the future, self-sustainable streetlights could reduce energy cost, simultaneously reduce blackouts and criminal activity, providing a feasible street lighting option for remote councils.

For more information, visit:;

About Joao Delgado

Joao is a Research Fellow in Futures Research and leads on medium-large scale futures projects at CERF. Amongst other projects, he has led the development of scenarios for the future of river basin management for the Environment Agency. His professional interests include veterinary science, epidemiology, risk and systems thinking.
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