Solar-powered street lights still need work

To my Toronto readers — or anyone else who cares — here’s a good local example of why the solar industry has a long way to go before solar-powered street lights make sense for municipalities. I’m sure the potential is there, but the Town of Halton Hills is taking a dim view of the technology after a one-year trial found the lighting inadquate.

3 thoughts on “Solar-powered street lights still need work”

  1. The other day I was talking to someone who used to live in Germany. Apparently over there they have minimal street lighting. They use low-wattage bulbs and many lights turn off after midnight. Could this be a case that our lighting standards are too high?

  2. There are a number of issues surrounding outdoor lighting. If the background illumination is high then you need a brighter light to make an impact – your eyes adjust to the total radiation they receive. Solar outdoor lights are great in cottage country (or on marine bouys) were there are few other light sources but not in an urban setting (think of the solar garden lights). Also government procurement processes tend to select the least cost product and if the staff did not specify the correct parameters (likely in the case of solar) such as illumination level then they would have got a product that was not suitable for the application. Solar could have provided the illumination – but the system would likely have been twice the size (and twice the cost). Solar has a role to play in “near grid” applications but it needs knowledgable staff to identify appropiate uses. Rob McM

  3. I appreciate that cost is always going to be a factor, particularly when it comes to spending public money, where available funds are going to be more limited, but it is a bit of a viscious circle. Without investment, the price will never come down, and the costs will remain high. We need to get projects like this going because renewable energy will be the only option in 40 years anyway.

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