Energy-Saving Streetlights Light Up Only When Needed

As a student, Dutch designer Chintan Shah asked himself why so many streetlights were on unnecessarily. He then set out to devise a more economical and environmentally friendly alternative.

What's the Latest Development?


While flying overseas, then-student Chintan Shah wondered why so many streetlamps lit streets that were empty at night. He then devised a system that uses wireless sensors to turn lights up only in the presence of a person, car or bike, and keeps lights dim the rest of the time. The result, called Tvilight, won a Delft University of Technology competition, and since then, it's been installed in five municipalities in the Netherlands and Ireland, with local governments in other countries expressing interest.

What's the Big Idea?

While doing research for the project, Shah learned that over 40 percent of European governments' energy bills went towards powering streetlights, and that they produced enough carbon dioxide emissions to power 20 million cars yearly. While the environmental and economic benefits of a system like Tvilight are obvious, he believes it could be adapted for other uses, such as alerting drivers of an ambulance's approach by flashing red light and giving them extra time to get out of the way. Dutch artist Daan Roosengaarde came up with some additional creative ideas: "Imagine I can write a piece of software, so when I take my girlfriend out for a walk, it does something special...you have this boulevard of interactive lights."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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