Thursday, 17 February 2011

Solar street lighting to help UK

A new company in the UK hopes to benefit from a proposal to overturn the ban on councils selling renewable electricity to the grid, by supplying them with solar-powered street lighting.

Scotia UK Limited – a joint venture between Danish solar-powered lighting developer, Scotia ApS and KN Network Services Limited, an engineering services firm specialising in renewable energy – has announced the launch of SunMast: the UK’s first grid-connected, solar-powered street light designed to generate more power than it uses. The system collects energy and feeds it back into the grid, enabling clients to earn money and reduce carbon emissions, while lighting streets and highways.

“I want to see more homes, communities and businesses generating their own energy. We can literally bring power back to the people,” Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, said recently. Sunmast will be one way for councils, businesses and the roads network to achieve this while feeding excess energy back into the grid at a profit.

Sunmast’s arrival in the UK is timely, as councils have seen their lighting energy bills skyrocket in recent years and many local authorities opting to switch off some street lights altogether, which has prompted concerns from MPs, police and safety groups.

Zero-emission lighting

“With government cost-cutting, and increasing concerns over rising energy bills, the time was right to join forces with KNNS to form Scotia UK,” said Peter Vissing, chief executive of Scotia ApS. “The government has recently overturned a ban on councils producing their own green energy. Because the SunMast system generates renewable energy as part of the urban environment, it can put councils on the road to energy self-sufficiency.”

SunMast helps achieve the environmental goal of zero-emission lighting by generating its own clean, solar electricity. Integrated into the body of the lighting column are up to 720Wp of efficient photovoltaic cells. The mast exports all electricity to the grid by day and only imports what is needed by night. Its innovations include the use of a new breed of low-light sensitive PV cells that do not require direct sunlight. Integrating solar cells vertically into the mast not only streamlines their design but also allows for a larger surface area from which to generate energy.

Renewable Energy Magzine first reported on SunMast back in December of last year, when the system was installed on the site of the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference (COP15) in Denmark. The system is also being trialled in the UK by the Connect Plus consortium which has installed the street lamps along stretches of the M25 motorway. “The SunMast’s leading edge in power capacity makes it the only viable solar street light for lighting main roads and highways,” said Vissing. “Generating energy and, therefore, income means that hard-pressed councils now also have a way to cut emissions without compromising safety.”

The SunMast’s photovoltaic panels, which are integrated into the body of the mast, are designed to work with any standard outdoor lamp as well as LEDs. Because the SunMast does not depend on batteries, which deplete quickly and require maintenance, it provides a completely reliable approach to road lighting. In addition, the mast's simple linear form means that a green energy solution need not be aesthetically intrusive.

For additional information:

Scotia Sunmast

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