Incandescent world – Did you know that each year streetlights in Europe generate as much greenhouse gas as 20 million cars and cost the public over €10 billion? Dutch designer Chintan Shah did and while on a night flight, looking down over our glowing planet, he had a bright idea. What if streetlamps only glowed when they needed to?
Light on demand – So Shah invented Tvilight, an intelligent LED street lighting system that only illuminates when it detects people are present.
360 coverage – Shah and his team collaborated with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands to develop a sensor, called CitySense, that can detect human presence and provide 360 coverage around a light-pole.
Safe circle of light – "CitySense has two main functions," says Shah. "It dims the light during off-peak hours, but as soon as a person is detected all the surrounding lights glow fully, so they are always in a safe circle of light."
Plug-and-play sensor – The plug-and-play sensor, integral to the Tvilight lighting network, sends wireless signals to neighboring lights when people are detected. It can be fitted in both conventional and new LED lights and is a major step towards more sustainable roads.
Glow-in-the-dark road – Experienced Dutch innovator Daan Roosegaarde, who acted as a mentor for Shah on CNN's fortnightly tech show Blueprint, has also invented a street lighting system. 'Glow-in-the-dark roads' are painted with strips that contain foto-luminising powder that only light up when necessary. Charged by daylight, the strips illuminate the contours of the road at night for up to 10 hours.
dynamic paint – The designer also introduced 'Dynamic Paint', paint that becomes visible in response to temperature fluctuations. For example, ice-crystals become visible on the surface of the road to alert drivers that it's cold and slippery.
The night owl – Other energy-efficient streetlight concepts include Edan Kurzweil's Night Owl, a solar powered LED streetlight that doubles up as a parking meter.
Nature-powered streetlight – This flower shaped streetlamp is powered solely by the elements. A concept by industrial designers Zhou Qian and Tao Ma, the petals are both solar panels and a wind turbine, combining the two renewable energies to ensure power in all conditions. Generated energy is stored in on-board batteries, which is then relayed to a set of LED lights after dark.
Trash-powered streetlight – The trash-powered streetlight concept by Haneum Lee has dual benefits for the environment. The lamppost composts trash and uses the methane byproduct to fuel the streetlight.
Bioluminescent trees – One group of American students has even managed to bio-engineer a glowing plant that could replace conventional lamps. Students at the University of Cambridge's genetics department created glowy bacteria that could one day lead to a city lit completely by iridescent trees.