From Daylight to Nightlife: Solar Lighting Solutions for Cities

Robert Baranyi - Product Manager - Schréder
Robert Baranyi
Product Manager - Solar Lighting

Towns and cities worldwide face a perfect storm of challenges: tackling the climate crisis, using less energy to shrink their carbon footprint, achieving net zero and creating attractive, well-lit spaces for citizens and visitors to live, work and play. 

What better than sunshine to chase the storm away? Lighting powered by the sun is now a valid alternative for most places that need light during the hours of darkness. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource on earth, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the Earth continuously. That's more than 10,000 times the world's total energy use.

Schréder has been at the cutting edge of urban lighting for a century, so now is the time to apply our expertise to the realm of solar. From making our best-selling designs available with solar power behind them, to working with clients to create bespoke solutions that take advantage of the sun with backup from the grid, we help customers achieve decarbonisation without compromising on safety, quality or aesthetic appeal.

Three Classics, Infinite Applications

Schréder EKINOX, which brings together Schréder’s lightability skills and Sunna Design’s solar power, makes our three most popular luminaires (CITEA NG2, TECEO and IZYLUM) available as solar lighting solutions. They are particularly useful options for areas where there is no connection to the electricity grid, or smaller installations such as bus stops and pedestrian squares.

Seafronts, bike paths and parks are all areas that can benefit from encouraging use after dark, without the cost and disruption of installing conventional electricity supplies. They also make sense for new build projects where minimising environmental impact is front and centre. Sustainability is one of our core values and we have been helping customers embrace the circular economy long before it became a buzzword.

A good example is the installation of CITEA NG2 solar-powered luminaires in Josephine Baker College in Saint-Donat-sur-l’Herbasse, France. This €30 million project to construct the “high school of tomorrow” for 650 pupils, centred around building a sustainable eco-system with wood from the nearby Alps and 450 m² of solar panels.

Solar-powered CITEA NG2 luminaires light the sustainability-designed Saint Donat College

Free As the Sunbeams

With solar lighting, there are no electricity costs because the luminaires are powered by renewable energy from the sun. This means that businesses and communities can save money on their electricity bills, which can add up to significant savings over time. For an example of how quickly these savings can be realised, download our free white paper here

Recent innovations have transformed the business case for solar lighting. One barrier to take-up has traditionally been battery technology. While solar can generate infinite energy, storing that energy so it can be used when needed - in the case of lighting, every day, after dark - has been more complicated. Many existing solar solutions have batteries that last around five years. With sustainability as one of our core values, we wanted to go further. With partners, we have developed solar lighting solutions with highly efficient battery management, resulting in an extended lifespan of up to 12 years. They can be easily replaced without affecting the rest of the luminaire, making them part of the circular economy through repair.

Installation is cheaper, because there’s no need to build grid infrastructure for connection. Developments in solar panels technology mean the latest models are much more resistant to extreme weather, with an average lifespan of around 30 years with little to no loss in efficiency. And going solar reduces reliance on fossil fuels and grey energy sources, helping cities and communities to lower their carbon footprint, as well as saving money.

Surfers and Sand Dunes

Schréder EKINOX builds on our previous experience in solar lighting solutions. Solar panels have long been a smart option for areas where heavy infrastructure works are difficult or even impossible, and councils and planners that make sustainability a priority.

Passeio das Dunas is an inviting seafront promenade on Portugal’s renowned Algarve coast. Inaugurated in May 2021, this area was formerly an unloved space used for disorderly parking. Loulé City Council wanted a solution to improve the quality of life of those who live and work there, as well as enhancing the experience of the millions of tourists who arrive every year.

PROAP Architecture Studio worked with Loulé City Council to create a harmonious public space, promote active mobility, and respect the natural environment. A green, tree-lined area creates a pleasant climate, an easy thoroughfare on bike or foot between the beach and fishing village, and benches to relax on. 

Schréder developed a customised solar lighting solution for Passeio das Dunas in Portugal

Solar lighting makes it accessible to the community 24 hours a day, all year long. Together with PROAP, we developed a customised stand-alone solar lighting solution integrating lithium batteries with a long service life of over 10 years and an innovative system to connect to the electricity grid if there’s a prolonged lack of sunshine.

Meanwhile, Muizenberg, South Africa, is renowned for its magnificent 20km beach and has been ranked one of the top 20 surfing destinations in the world by National Geographic. Few groups care more about protecting the planet than surfers, so a solar solution was the perfect option for this seaside paradise.

In 2016, the town launched a plan - Muizenberg Improvement District (MID) - to redevelop the beachfront and spruce up the area for residents and tourists who visit each year. They wanted to install lighting on the beach to enable surfers to make the most of the waves, while consuming minimal energy and avoiding heavy installation works in this natural landscape. The luminaires direct the light to the front of the beach where the activities take place to reduce light trespass in the water and protect sea life.

Schréder delivered an off-grid solar lighting solution for Surfers Corner in Muizenberg

Bright Sun Today, Bright Future Tomorrow

Forget your preconceptions about solar. Technology has changed everything: solar lighting solutions come in a variety of ranges that can meet the needs of any region, no matter how many hours of sunshine it gets or what the weather is like. Modern equipment is resistant to extreme temperatures, dust, or corrosion and can deliver uninterrupted lighting service all year, in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 70°C.

Solar has cast off the shadows to become a viable option for bike paths, campuses, sports facilities and parking facilities everywhere. There’s never been a better time to chase the sun, so download our white paper to understand how Schréder can brighten your sustainability outlook.

About the writer
After graduating with a Masters in Environmental Engineering Technology, Robert gained a solid experience in the lighting industry, developing high-value, sustainable products that meet market needs. He joined Schréder in 2019 and works closely with our R&D and sales teams worldwide to deliver solutions that enable customers to achieve their sustainability goals and are shaping the future of lighting.

Connect with Robert on LinkedIn.