Tvilight: Street light „on demand“
Europe’s electric bill is too high. Annualy the countries of the EU spend ten billion Euros alone for powering street light – eventhough it is not needed in many places. A Dutch company is up to change this now:
If you look out of a plane window into the night, you will notice highways nobody drives on, parking spaces nobody occupies. But still everything is illuminated” After one of those flights, Dutch Delft University student Chintan Shah asked himself how much this might cost the EU. His research disclosed: It is ten billion Euros annualy. „This makes up to 40 percent of Europes whole electricity bill“, says Shah. In CO2 this meets 40 million tons – enough to power 20 million cars for a year.
Light it where you need it
The solution is simple: „We turn on the lights only where we need them.“ To turn his idea into reality Shah founded the company „Tvilight B.V.“. With the support of the Delft University he developed a wireless sensor for street lights. „First of all we need to dim the lights. Practice shows that 60 percent is enough to keep a feeling of safety in the area.“ If a car, pedestrian or cyclist approaches the lantern, the sensor automatically turns it up to 100 percent again. Up to 80 percent of energy costs could be saved this way, says Shah. Also the sensor is easy to install. „Plug ‘n Play“, so to say.
„This is by far not everything“, says Shah. „The lanterns communicate with each other.“ If an object approaches the sensor, it gives a signal to his neighbour which as a result turns itself up to 100 percent, too. This way you will be guided by an avenue of illuminated street lights. But there are more possibilities of communication: „If for example an ambulance is coming your way, the lamps could be programmed to flicker red“, says Shah. This would tell drivers to make way for the ambulance and could save rescue workers valuable seconds.“
Light train stations and castles
The system works. After positive tests in the Dutch municipalities Nuenen and Assen, Tvilight expanded to Germany, Ireland, Australia and the US. „You have a range of ways to use it“, says Shah. For one project Tvilight worked together with the Dutch railway companies „ProRail“ and „NS“. „The sensors make it possible to illuminate abroad train stations cost efficient.“ In Germany the area around the old castle of Basthorst is illuminated by intelligent street lights. Five years ago this may not have been possible, says Shah: „One day people might ask themselves: Why wasn‘t this invented sooner?“
Pictures: Tvilight B.V.