09/15/2022 | The town of Châteaubernard in Charente achieved 75% energy savings in its street lighting by experimenting for a year with the box created by NRGYBOX.
“This is not Versailles!” “, says the saying. But today, even Versailles must make efforts. Injunctions to turn off unnecessary light bulbs are increasing and communities are following suit. Public lighting accounts for 41% of the municipalities’ electricity consumption and emits 670,000 tons of CO2 annually, according to ADEME.
Incubated at the Cité Numérique de Bègles, the startup NRGYBOX and its founder Rémi Kupisz offer an innovative solution to control public lighting and reduce light pollution and energy consumption in communities. Raising €500,000 will allow them to produce their solution on a larger scale to support communities in the ecological transition.
@who ! : What are the issues behind reducing street lighting?
Remi Kupisz: 5 or 6 years ago, I traveled at night between Bordeaux and Toulon. I drove all night, spent eight hours on the road. During those eight hours, everything was lit up around me while I was alone. I said to myself: “It’s amazing the means that are implemented and the amount of energy that we are wasting completely uselessly. There is a plant that is working to produce this energy that is of no use to anyone”.
Our central idea is to reduce the light emitted by public lighting as much as possible. In addition to its energy consumption, it has a disastrous impact on nocturnal ecosystems: bats, insects, etc. It is the second leading cause of insect mortality, after pesticides. Today, some communities turn off the lights completely, but this is not ideal. It’s all or nothing”.
The box developed by NRGYBOX is installed on the lighting pole and allows remote control, and each one is independent of the others. The system is designed to be autonomous with artificial intelligence behind it, but it is fully configurable and manually controllable. Thus, it is possible to draw light paths: you can turn off a district as a whole, but leave a specific path on. We can also keep the lighting of pedestrian crossings or dead ends. It is a balance between “I want to save money” and “I want to guarantee the safety of my constituents”. The idea of NRGYBOX is to find the middle ground.
Smart and autonomous lighting
@! : You have tested your solutions with various communities in the region. What are the results?
RK: Five cities in New Aquitaine tried out the solution developed by NRGYBOX: Châteaubernard, Gradignan, Saint-Pierre-d’Irube, Jurançon and Chauray. Over a period of one year, Châteaubernard made 75% energy savings. The community sent a questionnaire to people present in the area to collect their opinion. There were no negative comments, most were well received and most of them had not even noticed.
We were also able to test the intelligence of the automatic system as we went through a period of confinement during our experiment. The system regulated itself and the lighting gradually went out, as there was no one else on the streets. Over this month of confinement, we made 93% energy savings.
The NRGYBOX box, accompanied by an app to easily control it remotely
@! : How does the system you developed work?
RK: The advantage of this box is that it is very easy to install. It is accompanied by a second computer module with artificial intelligence that will allow you to determine when are the best times to light up. The idea is to determine with the community what their ambitions are in terms of energy savings and how to ensure that the shutdown impacts as few people as possible and that light is present at the best time. For this, NRGYBOX analyzes population flows from data acquired from telephone operators. Thanks to this information, we will be able to predict population flows.
The data collected is fully anonymised, in accordance with the GDPR. The only information processed by the machine is the number of people in a defined area at a given time, this is the density information. The system is autonomous once configured, but an application is provided to communities to allow them to regain control at any time. For a specific event, the music festival for example, communities just need to take out their smartphone and very quickly they can turn the lights back on across the city. The system remains manual and simply controllable at all times. The app is designed to be as simple as possible and can be used by anyone.
By Leo Marchando
Photo credit: NRGYBOX