Street lighting advances help cities lighten their load

Tue, 2013-04-23 14:04 -- Liz Enbysk

As municipalities invest in smart city infrastructure, smart city lighting projects will go hand in hand, driving increased sales of light emitting diode (LED) lamps for street lighting over the next decades. That's according to a Smart Street Lighting report from Navigant Research.

With LED costs falling dramatically, Navigant anticipates by 2015 energy-saving LEDs will become the second-leading type of lamp for street lights in terms of sales, behind only high pressure sodium lamps. By 2020, the study suggests, LED lamps for street lights will generate more than $2 billion in annual revenue.

"Smart street lighting systems can provide a backbone for other smart city applications, and conversely, a city investing in networking capabilities for smart city applications should also be looking to include better management of street lighting," notes Navigant research analyst Jesse Foote.

San Francisco is a good example of that. The city has implemented a wireless communication network from Swiss-based Paradox Engineering. It is designed for remote monitoring and control of various public services -- street lighting, traffic signals, electric vehicle charging stations and smart electricity meters among them.

Street lighting is the first phase, with Philips Lighting's Lumec RoadStar LED street lights. Following full implementation of the lighting program, Paradox says the city will integrate other applications.

An article on the collaboration between Paradox and Philips quotes Niels Van Duinen, Strategic Marketing Director of Philips Professional Lighting Solutions:   Integrating LED street lighting in a way that allows interoperability and exchange of available sensor data will help to improve lighting performance and efficiency drastically. This will contribute to the city's safety, ambience and not least it will reduce carbon emissions and operational expenses."

There's also a regional effort in the Bay Area to upgrade over 200,000 municipal street lights to the next generation of LED technology. An article on the project quotes Rafael Reyes, Executive Director of the Bay Area Climate Collaborative: “The LED street lighting opportunity for local governments is significant, with the potential to realize over 50 percent energy savings over legacy technologies."

Others point to even higher potential savings.  A column in Fierce Energy cites a two and a half year trial conducted across 12 cities by LightSavers Canada, a smart lighting consortium that found LED street lighting can result in energy savings as high as 80% when used in conjunction with smart controls.

LightSavers also conducted a variety of lighting pilots – streets, parking lots, parking garages, etc. -- in the Toronto area to provide real-world experience and data on the technical and financial performance of advanced lighting products. You can review project profiles and results from those pilots here.

A smart lighting initiative that launched in Jamaica earlier this year takes a slightly different approach to those mentioned above. The pilot developed by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development with U.S.-based technology and engineering solutions firm Green Energy RG LLC will install solar-powered LED fixtures in several Jamaican communities. As the Jamaica Observer reports, it's all about trying to slash the $2 billion-plus per annum the country spends on maintaining its 93,000 street lights. 

Smart lighting solutions coming on fast

The number of companies jumping into the smart lighting space is another indication of a market on the move. Here are just a couple of recent examples:

Silver Spring Networks announced collaboration with LED Roadway Lighting to deliver what it says is the market’s first networked, field swappable intelligent streetlight solution. “Today, the top leaders in their respective industries are joining forces to raise the bar for intelligent streetlights and deliver a game-changing solution for the smart cities of the future,” said Sterling Hughes, Senior Director of Advanced Technology at Silver Spring. “Silver Spring’s proven IPv6 networking platform is the perfect complement to LED Roadway’s first-of-its kind NXT module, unlocking enormous value for lighting operators and making streets safer for citizens.”

The companies say their solution is expected to deliver up to 65% in energy savings over traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights due to advanced LED technology and controlled dimming capabilities. The new solution is also designed to help operators reduce maintenance costs by up to 90% because of automatic streetlight failure notification and extended deployment lifespans. 

Another recently announced collaboration involves Echelon and OSRAM GmbH, which is a Siemens subsidiary and a leading light manufacturer. OSRAM will offer a standards-based street lighting management system that incorporates control networking technology from Echelon. The system will work with a range of luminaires – from emerging technologies such as LEDs to existing technologies such as induction lighting. OSRAM says its street light management system can further lower energy use by up to 40 percent and reduce the cost of operating the street light infrastructure.