Designer Adam Mikloski has come up with a beautiful design for solar powered street lights in India. Mimicking the structure of a seedling and the shape of mango leaves, the concept design captures not just sunlight but also rain to power the lamps.
The tops of the leaves have solar cells for sunny days. Meanwhile when it rains, the shape of the "leaves" funnels water to a drain into the post, where a water turbine can gather energy from the moving water.
The designer writes:
[In] India, due to monsoon climate there is a high fall, which can be perfectly utilized...The number of sunny hours after the rainy season is high. Recycling the power of the sun and rain constitutes the basis of my concept. To define the shape, I used leaves and shoots of plants. Leaves are extremely important for drainage. I considered the shape of mango leaves favorable as regards functionality, shape, and cultural history. The top of the leaf is appropriate for installing solar cells and for collecting water, while the stalk can divert and recycle this amount of rain. LEDs are operated by rechargeable batteries.
One question is what happens to the water once it cycles through the post. These lamps will be less appealing if they have to be part of a more elaborate drainage system under water. However, perhaps it is enough to have a hole at the base of the post for the water to exit. The LED bulbs are a good choice for minimizing how much energy the lamps consume, and I'm assuming the rechargeable batteries would be stored somewhere in the post.
Over all, the concept design is a beautiful and elegant use of biomimicry, as well as an interesting and practical use of both solar and water power to light up a street. Maximizing two natural elements rather than just one to power the lights is a great way to make sure a design is a good fit for an area with varying weather, and will work no matter what the conditions.