We’ve all seen poles on the freeway with solar panels attached to power whatever transportation device that has been installed, but these always seem to be far apart and not commonly used. This, however, is a misconception because when you see these it is just in this area. I was surprised when a simple web search of “solar powered street lights” produces over 1.84 million hits for various websites and companies that are now producing solar powered lighting systems that are ranging from park lighting to parking lot lighting. A few favorites are shown below:
These are independent units that come equipped with a solar panel and battery system to power the light without the need for trenching or running of conduits between poles and then the power source.
These self-contained units would prove ideal for locating new lights in congested existing sites where the underground utilities are delicate or unknown, or in sensitive environmental areas where the desire is to limit impact to the surrounding area. Beyond these examples the self-contained units will of course make good use for any location requiring lighting and do so in a green manner and from a renewable resource. These units can also help to achieve LEED credits for onsite renewable energy. Rather than needing to devote large areas of roof space to larger photovoltaic units (PV), these individual units mount directly to the light they are energizing and can provide all the power those lights need.
I am sure that as PV technology advances these individual units will continue to grow smaller and more affordable to use and will one day dominate all site lighting without anyone thinking of them as something new.