Smart Lighting in San Francisco

For this year’s Living Labs Global Awards, San Francisco requested showcases that would help the city develop an integrated wireless network for its streetlights and other urban services. The idea is to find a way to remotely control and manage the city’s lighting system to save energy, mitigate light pollution, and allow for flexible adjustments to lighting depending on the season and time of day. A wireless energy management system would allow San Francisco to reduce its operating costs while also helping the city take a major step towards its goal for a zero-emissions electric system by 2030. Several showcases were submitted this year to respond to San Francisco’s challenge. One of these is Intelligent Streetlights, submitted by energy technologies company Petra Solar. Their solution would involve a smart grid communications network that could be used for centralized, citywide management of not just streetlights, but also electric vehicle charging stations, parking monitoring, and meter pricing.

Petra Solar’s project would involve retrofitting over 18,000 existing streetlights throughout the city. The system would maximize the use of solar energy through high-efficiency solar panels mounted to streetlights, all of which would be integrated into the wireless communications network.

Even in a city with world-famous fog, the system is expected to significantly reduce energy and operations costs, saving an estimated $6 million USD over 10 years – not to mention the benefits of reduced emissions and cleaner air. With an investment in intelligent energy technologies, San Francisco stands to gain unprecedented flexibility and control over its urban systems while reinforcing its status as one of the most sustainable cities in the U.S.

~ Allison Bullock