Street Lamp Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Are A Bright Idea

So many electric cars and so few charging stations. If only there were plentiful electrified power posts EV drivers could simply pull up to, park and plug into... hey, are you thinking what we're thinking? True, the hundreds of millions of electric street lights lining the roads in almost every city around the world aren't designed to be convenient electrical outlets for drivers but unlike other alternative fuels we could name, the basic infrastructure is already in place.

Sure enough, a number of innovative pilot projects have been commissioned to convert existing street lights into EV charging stations. One example is currently underway in Berlin, Germany, where Ubitricity has converted 100 of the city's existing street lamps into EV charging points.

The modified posts don't look like much; a heavy-duty power cable and meter are all outside viewers will notice but in this case simple = cheap. According to Ubitricity, it costs under 300 euros to convert each lamppost compared to the roughly 10,000 euros required to set up a conventional recharging station from scratch. The savings could be substantial as Berlin's municipal authorities are planning to establish up to 800 public EV charging stations by the end of 2015.

Another conversion project has just been announced in Beijing, China, where ongoing efforts to replace energy-hogging high-pressure sodium lamps with energy-saving LED lamps. According to the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, eight EV charging poles in Beijing's Changping District have been installed on a trial basis with power coming from energy saved by using the new LED street lamps.

Other districts in Beijing including Yizhuang and Haidian intend to enact their own pilot programs for converting ordinary street lamps into charging posts for electric vehicles. At press time there were over 200,000 high-voltage sodium street lamps operating in the Beijing's six major districts, accounting for over 80 percent of the city's street lamps.

If all of these sodium lamps are replaced by LED lamps and 15 percent of the latter are converted into EV charging posts, Beijing could boost the number of charging points to more than 30,000 from the current 560. Bonus: the converted street lamps can also become WIFI hot spots, allowing car owners to occupy themselves online while their vehicles are charging. (via CRI English and