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Light comes from an energy-saving «flower»: Stapelia, a photovoltaic streetlight, is Made in Italy
It’s called Stapelia, like the five-petal tropical flower, and it is the latest generation photovoltaic streetlight 100% Made in Italy and presented at the latest edition of the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi - a worldwide trade fair in the renewable energy sector and held last 21 to 23 January in the United Arab Emirates. This hi-tech project is born of the cooperation between the Enea Research Centre (Organisation for new technologies, energy and environment, www.enea.it) in Portici, in the province of Naples, and Caldani , a Rome-based firm operating in the environmental business sector for the past 50 years and that has developed projects in research and technical-scientific innovation.
In Abu Dhabi, among the prototypes presented in the 180 exhibitors’ stands from all over the world at the World Future Energy Summit, Stapelia distinguished itself for its ability to bring together the most advanced solar photovoltaic technologies with a refined and futuristic design. The engineers’ aim is, after all, to make Stapelia stand out not only for its groundbreaking technology and environmental sustainability. Thanks to its design, this Italian photovoltaic streetlight is an element of urban décor which can pleasantly fit within precious architecture such as a historic town centre.
The philosophy behind this research project was summed up by Enea president Luigi Paganetto: “An intense cooperation between architectural design and the most advanced photovoltaic technologies is the key to allowing these technologies to gain footing in both historic and contemporary urban settings”. While Stapelia can be noted for its style, it is its technical specifications which truly qualify this ecological lighting system. An emissions-free system – since the clean energy source it uses does not release any carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But Stapelia’s pluses are not only measurable in environmental compatibility terms: thanks to photovoltaic technology, Stapelia can limit everyone’s energy consumption.
During the day, the streetlight captures solar energy, stores it in its batteries and subsequently uses it during the night to light high-efficiency lamps. As the sun rises again Stapelia shuts off and begins its cycle of converting light into stored energy. This process only occurs when the streetlight is isolated, i.e. not attached to the grid: in which case Stapelia becomes the ideal solution to guarantee night lighting to electricity-deprived areas. Should Stapelia be connected to the power grid, on the other hand, Stapelia produces electricity during the day and then feeds it through the grid, while during the night it feeds minimally off the grid using just enough energy to function – thus limiting its consumption thanks to a high luminosity.
Stapelia has two main parts: a 6m-long “stem” and a crown of five triangular petals (two elements bringing back the image of the flower with the same name). The petals are the photovoltaic modules in either all-glass or tedlar-glass with crystalline silicon cells. At the centre of the flower there is a double pyramid-shaped box, upon which the energy-saving lamps are embedded, shedding a diffuse and pleasant light. The long-life batteries are located at the pole’s base, and guarantee high-efficiency and limited maintenance costs. Stapelia’s junction box is able to monitor consumption and to program the “twilight” control to power the lamp on and off based on the surrounding level of natural brightness.