Solar So Good

Friday, September 23, 2005

SOLAR technology that can light bus stops right through the British winter will soon be appearing on London's streets in a project that will give the capital the biggest network of "solar stops" in the world.

The new stops will be built and installed for Transport for London (TfL) by Trueform Engineering Ltd, using solar technology supplied by Carmanah Technologies.

The bus stops will all be assembled in Britain and have been designed specially for London - they've been tested to work even in the UK's gloomiest weather conditions.

The solar stops light up automatically at dusk and can be easily identified by their white lighting.

Timetables can be illuminated at the touch of a button, which means passengers don't have to rely on street lights to read information and bus route numbers at night, which can be a problem for elderly and visually impaired passengers.

Research also showed that the light made customers feel safer while they were waiting.

The solar panels generate power where it's needed and the stops are easy to set up anywhere.

There is no need for a connection to the national grid and they cost nothing to run.

Ivan Bennett, Research and Development Manager, TfL said, "It's immensely satisfying to get leading-edge technology to work in such challenging real-life conditions."

"When we started looking at solar batteries that could cope with the British winter, they tended to be the size of a filing cabinet."

"We've now got a unit that can sit on top of an ordinary British bus stop and provide light all year round."

"This is one of those projects that works well on so many levels. It's an environmentally-friendly improvement which is relatively cheap to build, costs no extra to run, and will make a big difference to passengers."

Roll-out begins in Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow at the end of October, and installation will continue at a rate of 1,400 solar-lit stops each year for the next five years.