Innovation That Matters

Papilio can be adhered to walls or placed as a freestanding lantern | Photo source Tobias Trübenbacher

Wind-powered street lamps reduce light pollution in Germany

Architecture & Design

The motion-activated design uses wind to power its turbines and has an extra-warm, insect-friendly colour temperature

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Spotted: German design student Tobias Trübenbacher, from the University of the Arts Berlin, has developed a lamp post that only illuminates when necessary. The lamp also includes an integrated wind turbine that produces its own renewable energy.

The lamp, named Papilio, was designed to reduce the light pollution and emissions associated with street lighting. “We urgently need to tackle light pollution and the loss of biodiversity coming along with it. This can only happen if cities generate energy themselves – through locally embedded, decentralised systems and ‘prosumer’ products in huge quantities spread all over urban spaces. In this context, wind represents an often underestimated yet constantly growing potential,” Trübenbacher explained.

Papilio can be adhered to walls or placed as a freestanding lantern. The lamp should ideally be placed between three to six metres above ground, where ground-level winds are the strongest.

The wind is harnessed by a turquoise, pinwheel-shaped wind turbine with four aerodynamic rotor blades made of folded sheet metal. Due to the diagonally angled rotor, it can utilise complex airflows in urban environments — including natural currents, wind tunnels created by tall buildings and even smaller airstreams caused by passing vehicles.

The turbine then converts the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical power. An integrated 300-watt generator then turns it into electricity which is stored in a rechargeable battery. 

An infrared motion sensor makes sure the light only switches when someone is passing by, mitigating the effects of light pollution on both people and animals. The lamp is also angled straight down towards the floor and does not emit any light upwards and has an extra-warm, insect-friendly colour temperature of 2,800 Kelvin.

Written By: Katrina Lane

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