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Thursday, October 1, 2015

City of Santa Cruz & UC Santa Cruz Install Solar Streetlamp Research Pilot at Wharf

As part of the award-winning GreenWharf partnership, the City of Santa Cruz and UC Santa Cruz have installed an innovative solar streetlamp at the end of the Wharf as a research pilot project.

Provided by Mira Bella Energy of Peoria, Arizona, the solar streetlamp mirrors the gooseneck style of the existing streetlamps at the Wharf, which were upgraded to LED technology over the past two years. This design is intended to outperform other conventional panel technologies through a bifacial solar cell capturing scattered light on both sides of the cell array, even in overcast sunlight conditions. The vertically oriented panel design also reduces the potential for seagull excrement fouling which has limited the effectiveness of previously installed solar technologies at the Wharf. The solar streetlamp is outfitted with a battery pack inside the lamp pole, yet is also tied to the electrical grid for backup to the solar-battery system. The solar streetlamp’s performance will be monitored and timing and intensity can be adjusted via an online dashboard. Research will focus on the impact of an overwater installation on energy production and performance in a harsh marine environment.

“In addition to the vertical axis wind turbine in operation since 2011, the solar streetlamp is an innovative technology being piloted at the Wharf. Its real-time, web-based performance monitoring creates many research opportunities for students and faculty” said Dr. Michael Isaacson, Director of UCSC’s Center for Sustainable Energy Power Systems and principal investigator on the project.

It is a goal of the project to provide the public and other researchers access to the solar streetlamp’s performance data. UCSC researchers currently collect data on wind speed, solar irradiance and energy generation from the wind turbine and solar panel at the Wharf Headquarters. Access to the data sets and more information on the GreenWharf partnership is at

Wharf Supervisor Jon Bombaci adds “The solar streetlamp research pilot is another successful public-private project launched through the City-UCSC partnership, providing valuable research opportunities, educational experiences and helping to make the Wharf green.”

For more information on the GreenWharf partnership, please contact Ross Clark at (831) 420-5113 or rclark [at] cityofsantacruz [dot] com.

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