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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Art Imitates Life: The Future of Street Lighting

Posted by SEPCO

10/2/12 9:30 AM

Wall-EIf 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.  

Solar power is the ideal energy source for LED street lights because it produces direct current (DC) power—which is the exact same energy that solid state LED technology is powered by!  Moreover, ongoing advances in solar and battery storage technology will continue to increase DC power production and storage capabilities while at the same time decreasing overall size and cost of off-grid solar power systems.

For these reasons and more, it is only a matter of time before every LED  street light is powered by clean, renewable solar energy. A classic case of art imitating life!!

Topics: Solar Lighting, Street Lighting

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