Current-powered "reeds" illuminate urban waterways

Although you might not want to swim in them, many large cities are centered around one or more major waterways. 

Whether it’s the San Francisco Bay, or the Hudson River, these bodies of water provide a refreshing change from the hustle and smog of the inner city, and many people like to walk, jog, or simply sit beside them.

Come nightfall, however, these areas require costly electric lighting in order to keep people safe and comfortable. Nothing ruins the natural ambiance faster than an orange street light flickering above your head. That’s why Pensa, a design consulting firm, decided to re-imagine a renewable lighting solution for water-adjacent public spaces.

Designed to be reminiscent of plants you might see growing in the shallow waters of a pond or creek, these “Light Reeds” provide a calming glow throughout the night without using any electricity. Rather than gathering their energy from the sun, as you might expect, the reeds capture the power of the river’s current through the use of an underwater rotor.

Unlike traditional street lights, which are a rigid interruption of what might otherwise be a pleasant experience in the natural world, the Light Reeds are designed to bend and sway in the wind. Even the other solar and wind-powered lights we’ve featured in the past can’t boast that. 

Although they aren’t alive, these unique lighting solutions provide a way for cities to reduce energy consumption while also encouraging people to reconnect with the world around the. Learn more in this video.

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling