Solar Streetlights Generate Grid Juice

The world’s most efficient and cost effective solar powered LED street light? That’s what Philips believes it has developed in the Solar Gen2. Developed in conjunction with NXP Semiconductors, this new solar street light allows for a lamp post spacing of up to 50 meters (around 160 feet), a significantly wider space than can currently be achieved with other such tech, while still complying with the EU’s exacting standards for road lighting.

These solar street lights can, apparently, operate entirely off the grid. But when they are connected to the conventional electricity grid, they can actually supplement that grid with renewable energy, above and beyond what they use to keep the lights on. Philips sees this technology as ideal for sunny, equatorial countries with plenty of daylight to burn, helping to address the growing energy demands of developing countries.

Philips SolarGen2

image via Philips

Philips estimates that its new solar street light can “literally light up the lives” of an estimated 1.6 billion people in rural areas who currently lack access to electricity.

René Penning de Vries, CTO at NXP Semiconductors, said, in a statement, “By making Solar Gen2 as power efficient as possible, we’ve produced something which is genuinely groundbreaking while remaining affordable in those countries that can benefit the most from it. Harnessing the energy of the sun as effectively as possible means reduced electricity demand and a more robust infrastructure.”

Philips said its technological innovation in the Solar Gen2 lies in the combination of new high brightness LEDs along with patented optics designed to cast more light farther. This means fewer streetlights must be installed to light up a given stretch of road, creating an efficient outdoor lighting system. Another key factor is an intelligent charge controller, developed by NXP Semiconductors, that ensures the transfer of maximum power from the streetlight’s solar panels to its batteries.

Other key features of the Solar Gen2 include a smart charging and discharging system (designed to maximize battery life), a dimmer based on a self learning intelligence and a history log, an easy replacement system for spent LEDs and a theft prevention mechanism.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.