Power your street furniture with solar energy!

12 September 2017

Urban landscapes are continually changing. Whereas the number of inhabitants increases every year, the health of our planet declines… But how can we meet the needs of the growing population while limiting its impact on the planet? The solution could be solar town planning. From solar bus shelters to luminescent bike lanes, stay aware of trends in street furniture!

Street furniture powered by solar energy. An enlightened solution!

By 2020, the European Union wants to meet 20% of its power needs with renewable energies (1). Power from the Sun, from the wind, from tides, from biomass… all these alternative energies reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, especially, diversify energy supplies to cities. Thanks to renewable energies, the planet will no longer be dependent on fossil fuels.

UNO predicts a big increase in population by 2050, so alternative power sources are a vital issue. In just a few decades the UNO estimates the overall world population will grow to 9.8 billion – mostly in cities (2).

To meet the needs of the population while respecting the environment, some solutions have already been developed… These include building revegetation, LED lighting and solar town planning all of which have many advantages for cities. Some initiatives would make it possible for public authorities to provide for the needs of their population while reducing their impact on the planet… and their overheads!

Solar town planning: 5 items of furniture to install in cities.

Some countries and public authorities have already launched into solar town planning - but if we want to achieve the objective of 20% of renewable energy by 2020, everyone must start now! What will street furniture look like in tomorrow’s world?

1. Solar bus shelters

Let’s start with an innovation which was presented at the “Gallery of Solutions” in Le Bourget during COP 21 and which has already attracted some African nations. The roof of the Glasswing bus shelter is fitted with solar panels which make it 100% autonomous. No need to connect it to the electrical mains supply! It and the advertising panels are lit by LEDs. This solar bus shelter even features a USB socket so that passengers can recharge their smart phones and tablets…

2. Solar benches E-bench

Armor presented the first connected autonomous wooden bench at Paysalia 2015. Designed by Paysalia Trophies finalist Rondino, the bench has a solar powered USB socket. A true ecologically-friendly approach was used when designing this bench. It is made from 100% local French wood!

3. Solar street lamps

Solar radiation is a source of inspiration! Sunna Design, based in Bordeaux, France, has designed streetlights that run on solar power. The LED lights are powered by batteries with service lives of up to ten years. Besides powering the lighting, a forthcoming version can be connected to communication and power utility networks. There are already 7,000 solar street lights in about twenty countries, mainly in Africa (3).

4. Bike lanes

In Poland and the Netherlands, solar town planning is synonymous with biker safety. In the North of Poland, a bike lane has been coated with sunlight-absorbing luminescent particles. That not only saves energy but also encourages locals to forsake their cars for bikes. Research is ongoing to determine the full potential of luminescent particles. The Netherlands have a different bike lane project – the SolaRoad is a lane made with solar panels, themselves covered with non-skid tempered glass. The idea is to collect the sunlight to feed power to the city’s electric utilities. This road will be tested for two years. If it works as expected it could be adopted everywhere!

5. The solar tree

The first eTree was inaugurated in Nevers, France, on May 29, 2017… Does that ring a bell? The solar tree is connected and intelligent. Its branches and leaves are fitted with photovoltaic panels connected to sockets to provide power to passers by. And on top of that it gives them drinking water and Wi-Fi! What more can you ask for?

Also discover 4 “must” zany ecological town planning projects!

If the tree for tomorrow’s world is not pruned by landscape designers, it and the other solar powered street furniture provide public authorities with viable economic and ecological alternatives. Solar town planning is a brilliant idea for protecting our planet and reducing budgets! Do you want to find out more about innovations in solar town planning? Go to Paysalia 2019!

(1) Parlement européen, Les énergies renouvelables (2) Le Monde, La population mondiale atteindra 9,8 milliards d’habitants en 2050 (3) 20 Minutes, Sunna design déploie ses lampadaires solaires et connectés Photo credits: Fotolia / Stéphane Masclaux

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