Solar Lighting Can Help Aspen Sustain 100% Renewable Energy
Despite its small population of around 6,800 people and its remote location in the Rocky Mountains’ Sawatch Range and Elk Mountains, Aspen, Colorado, doesn’t feel like your typical small town. Named “Aspen” because of the abundance of aspen trees in the area, it originated as a mining camp during the Colorado Silver Boom of the 1880s. The city briefly flourished until the silver market collapsed in the mid-1890s.
Aspen entered its “quiet years” until the mid-20th century when Walter Paepcke founded the Aspen Institute and the Aspen Skiing Company, turning the city’s neighboring mountain into a ski resort. These developments quickly turned the city into an international tourist destination, a popular retreat, and an arts and cultural center.
Adding Solar LED Street Lighting to Aspen’s Sustainability Plan
Aspen is a unique city not just for its various tourist attractions, but its energy production as well. In 2015, it reached a goal set in 2004 to run its electric system with 100% renewable energy, becoming the third US city to do so. All of Aspen’s electricity comes from hydroelectric and wind power, as well as minimal landfill gas, and solar power. Despite receiving plenty of snow per year, the area still enjoys 246 sunny days per year, far above the US average.
Nothing fits Aspen’s bill quite like solar industrial outdoor lighting, which the city has not implemented yet. The city has over 30 parks and playgrounds, and 1,100-plus acres of open space, all of which can benefit from increased illumination. A properly lit pathway or park can increase the feeling of safety after it gets dark, help encourage positive use, and promote physical activity—residents and visitors alike can benefit from exploring Aspen’s many trails until late, and this is possible with solar lighting, which can be installed without disrupting the existing parks and trails.
Aspen’s streets can also be improved by solar commercial lighting: proper lighting for streets provides increased visibility to road users, which is very important when extreme weather hits. Plus, the city could add the lights in rough, remote areas where installing an electric grid would be cost prohibitive, since solar lighting can be installed even where grid access is impossible.
Solar outdoor lighting also provides excellent maintenance relief to existing infrastructure. Below-ground wiring and transformers can be difficult to fix, making repairs grow costlier as the lights age. Solar lights operate without any below-ground infrastructure and come at a fixed 10-year cost, helping reduce strain on the grid—they can also send automatic maintenance notifications if something does go wrong with an individual light. As the city of Aspen is fully dedicated to renewable energy, expanding its power supply to include solar-powered lighting is an obvious choice.