Las Vegas is betting on a new technology that might illuminate the city while also saving the planet. In a partnership with EnGoPLANET, a New York–based company that designs and manufactures off-the-grid lighting solutions and solar-power lighting, the City of Las Vegas has installed a network of streetlights that are powered by human footsteps.
The streetlights use both kinetic energy and photovoltaic panels to light up Boulder Plaza near downtown Vegas. The system also powers security cameras, portable cellphone charging stations and WiFi hot-spots. It utilises solar panels and footsteps to charge a battery that powers an energy-efficient LED. Each footstep yields four to eight watts, depending on the pressure. The units are completely self-sufficient and independent, meaning the power will stay on if the grid goes down.
The city can keep an eye on battery and power levels, change the colour of the lights and monitor pedestrian traffic. The units can also measure air quality and weather. According to the company, streetlights generate 100 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is just a fraction of the ten billion metric tons that are produced worldwide each year. The new program is part of a wider initiative from the city to move toward sustainability and renewable resources. In 2015 the city pledged to get 100% of its energy from renewable energy starting in 2017.