Greenbuddies tips – August 2021

Sources: Maurizio La Cava, 

The Pros and Cons of Streetlight Charging

The idea of using the existing streetlight infrastructure in big cities for EV charging is not new. Already a few years ago many large city administrations all over the world adopted plans to reduce their cities’ dependence on fossil fuels and the green intra-city transportation obviously plays a major role in this ambition.  The second objective of municipalities in respect to promoting carbon free passenger car transportation is to foster EV adoption also among the substantial part of the city population that cannot take advantage of off-street parking.

Among the cities that are at the forefront in this sense the City of London retains a prominent position. They retrofitted the first lighting pole in 2016 and now they have already several hundreds that are EV-charging ready. This initiative is part of their Go-ultra Low City Scheme which plans to continuously increase the number of charging points in lamppost over the next few years providing one of the most significant catalysts to accelerate sales of EV’s in the city. London implemented their solution by installing simple sockets in the light poles and demanding the user to buy a smart cable to charge their EV. The simplicity of Ubitricity’s (German start-up in charge of streetlight charging infrastructure in London) solution  allows the implementation of charging stations without having to do invasive infrastructure work like digging up sidewalks or installing unsightly, standalone charging bays. The available capacity of installed individual chargers rose from original 3 to max 7.7 kW.

Los Angeles is another good example. It started replacing all of its old sodium-vapor streetlights with smart LED versions that use less energy. This program started in 2009. As a result, economic savings and excess power were produced. For this reason, the city started investing in new electric vehicle charging stations attached to the streetlight poles. LA began a program in 2016 to install EV charging stations to street light poles.

The location of the charging stations depends mainly on traffic patterns. The city looks for areas with heavy vehicle traffic, as well as neighborhoods that may be underserved in terms of charging infrastructure or overlooked by private sector charging companies. Also, some locations come from requests from the city residents.

Prague has set off on its way to using the existing network of street lamps for public EV charging in 2020. The plan assumed the city would like to roll out up to 100 charging stations within 2 years. This step is one of the building blocks for the charging infrastructure strategy for EV’s in the capital of Czechia. The Prague power distribution company PRE has launched the first stage of developing the planned streetlight charging bays in the city quarter Vinohrady. They are easy to spot – at the lamppost foot is a relatively bulky black box that provides casing to metering system and other key components of a charging station. The charging outlets will be located above the box. Although some critics may raise objections to the design compared to the rather elegant London streetlight charging grid, Prague chargers feature one key advantage: they will enable AC charging of 2 vehicles at a time with up to 22 kW, i.e. considerably more than its rivals in London.
Estimated capital ependitures account for about EUR 31,4 Mio of which a substantial part represents complete retrofit of the relevant existing urban lighting system. 

This includes replacement of the cabling system, recovery of the sidewalks as well as swapping previous sodium bulbs for way more efficient and less power-hungry LEDs. In addition,  this new technology also allows dimming the streetlights in dependence on natural light intensity or at off-peak times. Estimated EUR 19,5 Mio will be saved as a result of synergies achieved through collaboration with PRE and utilizing the legacy streetlight infrastructure.This includes replacement of the cabling system, recovery of the sidewalks as well as swapping previous sodium bulbs for way more efficient and less power-hungry LEDs.

The main advantages of streetlight charging therefore include inter alia the following:

•  Reduced clutter and sidewalk footprint, potential for more installations.
•  Can be installed at flexible heights.
•  Low installation costs, if the power to the light pole is sufficient (trenching can be timed with planned streetlight upgrades).
•  Speed of rollout.

On the other hand, there might also be some disadvantages, like:

•  Installations are limited to existing pole locations, light pole standards, and further suitability assessments.
• May give the impression of impermanence.
• May affect the pole integrity.
• Higher CAPEX in case existing feed-in cabling needs to upgraded or replaced.

Despite these and perhaps some other minor drawbacks, it can be argued that streetlight charging is a modern and highly desirable enabler of E-mobility penetration in large cities, which are plagued by high CO2 emissions produced by the combustion engines of vehicles rolling on its streets to this day.  The fact that multiple town halls of major world cities have already implemented this concept and many others pilot it, is a clear evidence of its benefits for the green future of urban passenger transportation.


Most commonly used mounting systems
of PV plants

During recent years Greenbuddies, as an active company in photovoltaics, has been working with multiple mounting system manufacturers. Therefore, we are not afraid to say that we are very much aware about the latest trends in the PV. For rooftop projects, these trends are very important considering the type of roof on which you want to install PV, as naturally every roof requires individual approach. Two the most common types are flat roofs and trapezoidal metal sheet roofs. On flat roofs a ballast system is the most frequently used.

Anchoring is provided only by the ballast without any need for roof penetration, which provides a huge advantage in terms of roof impermeability. For pitched roofs with metal sheets the most common method is a mini-rail system or a slide in system, which is easy to install, saves the roofs permeability and saves a lot of material. These kinds of mounting system are offered by multiple manufacturers across the Europe, for example Van der Valk, Sadef, Sflex, Avasco, K2, Aerocompact, Esdec, Sunballast, Schweizer and many others. For ground projects, under normal circumstances, ramming is the regular way of anchoring. It is the most economical as well as the simplest mounting system with very little impact on the environment. As with the roof mounting systems, there are many manufacturers across the Europe and the most popular are Oberhauser, Sadef, PV-Stahlbau, Meiser, PUK Solar, Arausol, MKG, Mounting systems and others. Unlike the roof mounting systems, there are bigger differences among the manufacturers. The main difference is the clamps, where some are much easier to install – no extra nuts are needed, just click-in. Another common and very important thing which makes a huge difference is the tolerance during installation, especially during the ramming.

Greenbuddies at Solar Solutions 2021

Glancing back in time our first market was Germany. About a year after entering the German market (in 2017) we started to zoom in on the market in Holland. Although there were some other activities, the most important was a well prepared and yet still very modest presence at Solar Solutions International, the most important PV show in the Benelux countries. Meeting a lot of potential customers there directly ignited possibilities to work with many of them on their projects. This happened despite the fact that we had a really modest booth in 2019.

Simply said: a good trade fair is of vital importance.

Last week – after the positive news from the Dutch state authorities about allowing this years fair to happen – we started the real work to create a great booth at a great fair to meet a lot of great PV professionals (and now also friends!) from the Benelux markets. This means we are working on a nice design of a new booth, preparing the right messages, tuning the visiting times to have ample time to meet etc., etc. We are really looking forward to seeing how things are moving: what new products are on the market, what the people are preparing for the next year and also learn more about developments in terms of legislation.

You are more than welcome to come by our stand, we will be delighted to talk with you at the booth G6!