Using Street Lights To Charge Your Electric Car

Electric car drivers, urban designers, and streetscape conservationists alike can breathe a deep sigh of relief. German manufacturer, Ubitricity has designed an innovative solution to electric vehicle (EV) charging points by retrofitting existing streetlights.

The firm are working with a number of London Borough Councils to install existing streetlights with energy efficient LEDs with integrated EV charging points. The concept is simple, by using less energy in the lamppost, you can take more out. In this instance, the “taking-out” device comes in the form of a particularly clever charging cable which features an electricity meter and remote-billing software. The Council adapts the lampposts, the EV driver orders a cable.

The flexibility of being able to charge more sporadically should appeal to EV drivers, as will the simplicity and convenience of acquiring a personal charging cable. All you have to do is sign up, fill out a form online and the firm will send you your very own cable. After that, each month, you receive a bill via email itemizing your consumption of kWh. Easy peasy. This culture of convenience is also felt by the Council. By making use of existing electricity infrastructure, the Council not only avoids additional street clutter, but also sees a marked reduction in time and costs related to installing EV charging points and parking bays. An added, but by no means irrelevant, bonus is that, by removing the need to create dedicated EV parking bays, the general supply is not depleted, whilst the Council is still providing local charging points for drivers who do not have access to off street parking. It also greatly reduces the risk of electric car-drivers being accused of stealing other people’s electricity.

The general consensus is that electric vehicles can play a key role in improving local air quality in urban areas, however, for the EV market to expand, there needs to be enough charging points. This is why the collaboration between Local Councils and Ubitricity has the potential to create a big impact in terms of facilitating the use of EV vehicles.

Too good to be true? Questions have been raised about the time efficiency of the cable, as it offers lower power charging than traditional EV charging stations. However, with more ubiquitous and conveniently placed charge points overall, the lack of aesthetic damage and the economic advantages, the future of the newly adapted streetlight is, I guess, looking pretty bright.