Street lights powered by their own wind turbines and solar panels are lighting up a section of Barcelona's sea front as part of the city's bid to become energy self-sufficient. Amy Pollock reports.
Barcelona's beach is being lit up with new-look street lights. The six innovative lamp posts are each fitted with two solar panels, a wind turbine and a battery. As a result, the environmentally-friendly lights generate enough energy to run for ten hours overnight. Pedro Montes leads research at developers Eolgreen. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) EOLGREEN RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, PEDRO MONTES, SAYING: "Compared to a traditional street lighting system, these six street lights that we have set up emit two tonnes less CO2 per year than sodium vapour or mercury vapour bulbs we see in conventional systems." Eolgreen also says its lights are 20 percent cheaper to run than conventional lights because they use LED technology and are independent from the electricity grid. While solar-powered LED street lighting is used elsewhere, Eolgreen's system is unique because its graphene turbines turn with even a gentle breeze. Ramon Bargallo helped design the independently-powered lights. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) UNIVERSITAT POLITECNICA DE BARCELONA (UPC) RESEARCHER RAMON BARGALLO, SAYING: "It was a big challenge as generators often need high speed winds to turn, between 1500 rpm and 3000 rpm. But we needed a generator able to work with only four or five rpm. Also generators are normally more efficient the higher the wind speed and less efficient at low wind speeds, so we had to design it in the opposite way." Barcelona's planners aim to roll out the new lighting system across the whole city. It's part of their drive to achieve energy self-sufficiency in the next 40 years. Eolgreen intends to ramp up production to 700 streetlights by the end of the year. While the sustainable energy developers continue to improve efficiency, they hope their system will soon be brightening streets all over Spain.