Police try out solar-powered traffic lights

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) -- Kanagawa police said Wednesday they have installed traffic lights powered by solar energy in the city of Kawasaki on a trial basis to prepare for an emergency blackout in case of a major natural disaster.

The prefectural police department said it hopes to develop a new type of traffic lights in cooperation with Yokohama-based Kyosan Electric Manufacturing Co., which can be installed across the country in the future.

The prototype traffic lights, which use two 120x53 centimeter solar panels that supply electricity during the day, are installed at a street crossing in Saiwai Ward of Kawasaki.

The nighttime power will be provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co., while surplus electricity will be stored in a battery in case of a blackout.

In Kanagawa, traffic lights temporarily became unusable at some 15,000 locations in the wake of the power rationing following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami as well as subsequent nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

However, the local police could send police officers only to 3,400 points among them.

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