If you pay close attention to the award winning Pixar movie, WALL-E, you will see that every outdoor street light you see in the movie is powered by solar energy. Hats-off to Pixar animators for their accurate assessment of the future of street lighting! Indeed, due to ongoing advances in solid state LED lighting and off-grid solar power technology respectively, the question is not IF all street lights will be powered by solar energy…but WHEN!
Ongoing advances in solid state LED lighting are centered around ‘lumens per watt’—i.e. the amount of light solid state LED chips can create through a given amount of energy. In the same way that computer chips have become ever smaller and more powerful over the years (ex. the computing power of the new I-Phone 5 would have taken an entire floor full of computers 30+ years ago), the amount of light that LED chips are capable of creating with given amount of energy continues to expand at a rapid pace. As such, it is only a matter of time before a LED street light fixture can produce the same/better light output of today’s high power street light fixtures with a tiny fraction of the energy.