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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Solar Powered Bus Shelters

Lighting bus shelters at night provides more safety for people. Powering the lights with solar energy saves money and carbon dioxide emissions. This week a Canadian college, McMaster University, unveiled a solar powered bus shelter. The bus shelter generates 4.5 watts which power the lighting. Green Biz characterized the solar panels on the shelter’s roof as “flexible strips” that can be installed “cheaply and easily.”

“Our goal is to provide a clean, affordable power source for bus shelters that will let transit companies run Internet-based scheduling updates,” said Adrian Kitai, a McMaster professor who guided the bus shelter project. “The solar technology can also be used to light up bus shelter signage and provide lighting for general safety.”

In 1996, Cornell University installed solar powered lights in two of its bus shelters. Passengers push a button to turn on the lights. The solar powered shelters save an estimated 25 to 30 kilowatt hours a year of energy.

Last week, San Francisco unveiled its first solar powered bus shelter. The city plans to build 1,099 more by 2013. The roof’s solar panels power the shelter’s lighting and wireless router. The shelter doubles as a WiFi center. The roof is made of 40 percent post-industrial polycarbonate material, and the steel structures from 75 percent recycled material.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said, “Transit shelters that use photovoltaics, LEDS, and WiFi are going to be standard in the future and I’m proud that San Francisco is once again acting like the pace car for other cities by trying and implementing these technologies.”

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