More and More Cities are Switching to LED Street Lighting
Edinburgh has become the latest major city in the UK to swap their dull sodium bulbs for bright, efficient lighting in a project that is estimated to be worth around £2.15 million. Other cities throughout the world are following suit because it makes financial sense as well as saving greenhouse gas emissions.
The Council currently has approximately 63,418 street lights. The cost of this electricity consumption is currently £2.97m per year. The new street lighting could save the council £280,000 per year.
Edinburgh Council is to upgrade 6,000 street lights across the capital, primarily using LED and PLL - outdoor long life fluorescent - technology.
The upgrade follows the Council’s White Light Pilot Project where 271 street lights were upgraded in two areas of Edinburgh. A survey of residents during the pilot found that 89% were satisfied with the lights and 83% thought the brightness was ‘about right’
The conversion will be paid for through an interest-free loan from Salix, a Government energy projects funding provider for the first 6,000 street lights.
Plans to introduce more white light technology to Edinburgh could also see the installation of LED stair lights maintained by the Council in around 14,100 tenements across the capital. This upgrade would save approximately £1.25m in energy each year.
Vice Convener of Transport and Environment Councillor Jim Orr said: “The trials of this technology were a huge success and residents told us they liked the crisper, brighter light and thought it was better than the old kind of street lights.
“We’re now looking at rolling white lighting across the city which will save millions in the long run as well as making Edinburgh look better. Obviously, these lights are also much more energy efficient which is all part of Edinburgh’s sustainability journey.”
A spokeswoman for the Council added: “This is an agreement in principal to roll out white light to other parts of the city but until such times as a detailed design is carried out - which is done on a street by street basis - we will not be in a position to procure lanterns.”
Steven Ellwood, Managing Director of BLT Direct, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of LED lighting solutions and energy-saving fixtures for homes and businesses, says, “Edinburgh has become the latest in a long list of cities that are taking the plunge and opting to install LED lighting on their streets. The first year’s outlay may seem like significant figure, but the energy-saving costs over the next decade will pay for the initial investment many times over, and will offer citizens of Edinburgh more consistent, bright and efficient lighting in their public areas.”
Cities, towns, villages, capitals and regions across the globe have been almost queuing up to join the list of pioneers swapping their old, conventional lighting solutions for more technologically advanced alternatives.
Around Europe, Albertslund (Denmark), Birmingham (UK), Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Hódmezővásárhely (Hungary), Lyon (France), Mechelen (Belgium) and Tilburg (The Netherlands) have all installed LED lighting on their streets.
Back in the UK, Manchester, Hull, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, Sheffield, Glasgow and Plymouth have done the same, some at great initial cost; Manchester’s thorough lighting revamp will cost the council £32m by the time it’s complete, and Birmingham, among the first to roll out a project in 2010, invested millions to install up to 95,000 street lights in the region.
With energy costs expected to rise in the coming years, it is crucial for councils and local authorities to consider taking the plunge, just like Edinburgh.
Sometimes city leaders cite falling costs as an excuse to put off a decision on investment: tt might get cheaper later. But Iain Watson, director of energy efficiency for the UK's Green Investment Bank (GIB), is on record as saying that the savings in energy and maintenance costs that councils can make by acting today are already so substantial that delay no longer makes financial sense.
Last November, across on the other side of Scotland, Glasgow announced that by next summer, when it hosts the Commonwealth Games, the orange glow of 10,000 sodium street lights will also have been replaced with the crisp white light of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent bulbs, but with a difference.
By then it will be well on the way to becoming a world-leading "smart" city, having won £25 million from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board to show how a city can use cutting-edge digital and wireless technology to provide services such as roads, security and lighting to its citizens more efficiently, while cutting CO2 emissions.
Glasgow will equip the LED lights with digital sensors allowing them to be controlled remotely, and to respond to changes in the local environment, such as an increase in traffic. Such intelligent controls can push the average energy savings with LED lighting from 50% to 70%, according to a European Commission report a encouraging more cities to make the switch.
Although Glasgow's decision to replace its street lights was independent of the smart city funding, the money will be used for pilot projects that pair LED lighting on a stretch of road with smart controls and wireless technology, enabling city planners to monitor traffic, air quality, congestion and noise levels, and respond accordingly.
David is Special Consultant of this website. He's author of Energy Management in Buildings, Energy Management in Industry, Sustainable Transport Fuels, Solar Technology, Sustainable Home Refurbishment, Solar Photovoltaics Business Briefing, and much more. His new book, The One Planet Life, is due out in November. He's also a novelist, script and comics writer, journalist, and editor. He was ...