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UK gets a glimpse of combination streetlight, car charger

Charge of the light brigade: A BMW i8 and i3 at a Light and Charge lamppost, where apparently it's okay to park on the grass.

Part of streetlighting’s future went on display in the UK last week as BMW brought its combination streetlight car charger to Oxford, but only for a look-see.

The company showed off its ‘Light and Charge’ system at its Oxford manufacturing plant, where it produces its MINI cars.

The demonstration was part of the city’s Low Carbon Oxford Week.

BMW Light and Charge consists of an electric vehicle charging station mounted on a light pole that also houses LED streetlights. It thus combines what some people regard as key elements for a sustainable energy future: cars weaned off petrol, and lights that tap low energy, low maintenance and highly controllable LEDs.

LED streetlights are also beginning to form the back of sensor-equipped information networks that help monitor things like crowds, crime, air quality, noise, traffic and parking.

While the city and county of Oxford seems impressed with the possibility of a combo charger/streetlight, for now the two entities are only window shopping.

‘We’re pleased that we have the opportunity to take a look at this innovative new technology as part of Low Carbon Oxford Week,’ representatives said in a joint statement. ‘Combining energy-efficient street lighting with a re-charging station for electric vehicles is a neat solution to the problems of on-street charging stations.”

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council are working together to encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles. It is trying to secure funding from the UK government’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles, Go Ultra Low City Scheme, which is a cross-departmental initiative involving the Departments of Transport, Business, Innovation & Skills, and Energy & Climate Change.

Photo is a screengrab from BMW website