November 1, 2016 - 5:59 pm
Las Vegas, a city known for its lights, is serving as the pilot site for a new off-the-grid technology that relies on a combination of footsteps and sunlight to brighten sidewalks.
The city partnered with clean technology startup EnGoPLANET to put four new streetlights into Boulder Plaza downtown. The streetlights combine solar with the energy generated from people stepping onto kinetic pads on the ground to illuminate the plaza.
Four streetlights and eight kinetic pads were installed in the small Arts District plaza between Main and First streets.
“We think this can be a good substitution or alternative to traditional streetlights,” said Petar Mirovic, CEO of EnGoPLANET, which is based in New York and launched in January.
The downtown Las Vegas pilot project is small, but Mirovic envisions much larger scales for the future. He cites possibilities like the Strip or New York City parks for the solar- and kinetic energy-powered lights.
Microgenerators sit below the kinetic pads and create energy every time someone steps on them. Each footstep can create 4 to 8 watts, depending on the pressure of the step.
The four streetlights in Boulder Plaza have been installed and are working. A small solar panel is mounted on top; the kinetic pads are on the ground. The light poles also include charging stations with universal serial bus ports.
In a statement, Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the project aligns with the city’s alternative energy efforts, such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified buildings, solar projects and alternative fuel vehicles, and with the possibility of developing an “innovation district” downtown.
Inspiration struck in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge pounded the Northeast, leaving widespread, long-term power outages in its wake.
“We couldn’t charge our phones, we couldn’t do anything — we were really affected by that,” Mirovic said. “We talked about how clean energy is all around us, but cities don’t have the infrastructure to harvest and store the energy.”
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