Self-powered streets and roads are becoming a reality, and the latest project to get the green light is ‘Intelligent Street’ in London’s West End.
It’s actually called Bird Street, just off the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street, and the plan is to use solar and kinetic energy to help power local amenities, such as street lights.
To do this, special materials will be incorporated into local roofs as well as shop and restaurant canopies. But this being the UK, developers aren’t solely relying on power from the sun. Panels will be incorporated into the pavements to make use of the heavy footfall in the area, thus generating more energy which can be stored and used indefinitely.
Funding will come from TfL’s Future Streets Incubator Fund, part of the mayor’s £4 billion Road Modernisation Plan, which aims to support innovative projects that reduce air pollution, congestion and noise pollution. The project itself will be managed by the New West End Company (NWEC).
Steve Medway, managing director trading environment at NWEC, said. “This funding will enable us to provide a beautiful oasis for shoppers and residents to enjoy in the heart of our capital city, trialling some of the newest clean air technology, as part of our continued aim to improve air quality in the West End.”
The initiative is a pilot scheme for TfL but the catalyst to making it happen was less about alternative sources of energy and more about cleaning up the level of local air pollution. Oxford Street’s air quality has been criticised after breaching EU limits one thousand times in 2015. Bird Street will be converted into traffic-free zone, prioritising pedestrians and cyclists, with the renewable energy sources providing a demonstration framework for what may be possible in the near future.