As the world grapples with how to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels, one New York-based startup has a novel idea for powering streetlights.
EnGoPlanet has installed four streetlights in a Las Vegas plaza that are powered exclusively by solar and kinetic energy from foot traffic. In addition to the streetlights, the experimental power grid provides juice for a video surveillance, USB charging ports, Wi-Fi, and environmental monitors in the plaza.
Each of the streetlights features a solar panel on top and is surrounded by kinetic tiles for people to walk on. Depending on the amount of pressure applied, walking on the tiles generates 4 to 8 watts of power, which is stored for use in the evening. While these tiles might not be useful in cities where cars are the main method of transportation, in a city like New York, Hong Kong, or Chicago, these tiles could bode well for a future where our feet power our streetlights.
According to EnGoPlanet, there are over 300 million streetlights around the globe, producing 100 million tons of CO2 and costing cities $40 billion a year. While it remains to be seen if this kinetic/solar mashup will prove successful in Las Vegas, the idea of streetlights with USB power and Wi-Fi powered by our feet is an exciting one.