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LED Road Lighting Retrofits

LED Road Lighting Retrofits

The Retrofit:

Road lighting is an essential service provided by governments to ensure safety and security at night for drivers and pedestrians alike. Rising energy costs, tight municipal and federal budgets, and rapid growth in overall electricity demand are making it an imperative for authorities to rethink how lighting can be provided in the most cost‐effective manner

Lighting accounts for around 19% of global electricity consumption. Most of it is concentrated in cities and urban areas where road lighting can contribute up to 40% of the city’s annual electricity bill. Cities currently comprise of more than two‐thirds of the global energy consumption, with energy demand in cities expected to grow by almost 60% by 2030.

The urgency to replace old road lighting with more energy‐efficient (EE) technologies can no longer be ignored. LEDs are the most EE option for road lighting today and can help municipalities achieve 50‐70% in energy savings over conventional road lighting technologies such as mercury vapor and high‐pressure/low‐pressure sodium lamps.

Features of an LED Road Lighting System:

The LED road lighting system is similar to conventional road lighting to the extent that the basic parts are the same – both systems have the pole, cabling, and the luminaire which houses the light source. However, while conventional lighting technologies include a single light source (the bulb), the luminaire of an LED road light unit houses several parts, starting with multiple LED chips arranged in an array, combined with optics, heat management, and a driver – all enclosed in a high pressure die‐cast aluminium and glass cover.

Features of LED

Performance Comparison of LED’s and Conventional Technologies:

LED High Pressure Sodium Vapor (HPSV) High Pressure Mercury Vapor
Distance between Poles 30m 30m 30m
Number of Poles 33 33 33
Investment ($) $$$ $$ $
Lamp Wattage 70W 150W 250W
System Wattage 70W 180W 300W
Luminous Efficacy 90-130 Lm/W (rapidly improving) 100 Lm/W 60 Lm/W
System Efficacy 90-130 Lm/W (rapidly improving) 80 Lm/W 48 Lm/W
Watts per square meter (W/m2 0.33 0.86 1.42
Lifetime 50k hours 12k hours 5k hours
Annual Energy consumption (@ $0.15/kWh) $1,532 $3,938 $6,563
Hazardous Substances No Yes Yes
Color Rendering Index (CRI) >70 25 <60

The most important differences to note among the three technologies in the table above are the following:

W/m2 and energy consumption costs: LEDs provide directional light, making them very efficient when lighting up specific surfaces like roads, and thus bringing down the W/m2 values. In comparison, conventional lamps dissipate light in all directions, including where it is not needed. Hence, LEDs use much less electricity to provide the same lighting level on the road. This is reflected in the annual energy consumption costs, for which LEDs have the lowest.

Lifetime: LEDs also have the longest lifetime, and despite higher initial investment, LEDs tend to be the most cost‐effective lighting option in the long run. This is due to other cost savings incurred during its operational lifetime including maintenance, repair, replacement, and disposal costs.

Hazardous substances: LED systems are safer for the environment as they do not contain hazardous substances (e.g., mercury) as defined in international norms and also last longer, thus converting them to trash fewer times.

Key Benefits of LED Road Lighting:

Technological benefits

LEDs represent the next stage in the evolution of lighting technology, moving lighting solutions from analog to digital technology. This is the trend seen across different electrical appliances; radio, telephone, television, and camera have made the switch to digital in the past few decades. The technical benefits offered by LEDs include, High lumen efficacy, Directionality and Reduced Light Pollution, Long lifespan, Superior quality of light, Extended controllability, Durability, Aesthetics.

Economic Benefits

The strongest argument for a switch to LED road lighting is economic. The direct and indirect economic benefits of LED lighting include;

Lower lifetime cost

During its much longer lifetime of 50,000 hours (compared to 15,000 hours or less for an alternative conventional technology), the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an LED road lighting system is lower by 50% or more. The TCO of a road lighting system includes energy, lamp replacement, and labor and maintenance costs.

Income generation:

Effective road lighting helps extend light hours in cities as well as rural areas. This promotes tourism; longer business hours for businesses such as food vendors, shops, entertainment centers; and other evening activities resulting in jobs and income generation.

Savings along the energy sector value chain:

By being more efficient, LED road lighting reduces the amount of energy needed from the grid and frees up capacity during peak hours. This allows governments to meet growing energy needs from existing infrastructure and avoid or postpone investments such as for power plants, transmission lines, and distribution networks. Similarly, in off‐grid and rural areas, stand‐alone solar LED road lighting can help governments meet urgent lighting needs as investments needed to extend the grid are still being made.

Social Benefits: Road safety:

LED road lighting provides better quality light, which increases visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. In off‐grid locations, solar LED road lighting can light dangerous intersections or populated unlit spots. Road lighting, and especially LED road lighting, can significantly improve road safety conditions, especially in poorly lit areas and highly populated cities in developing countries.

Energy savings, environmental benefits:

Road lighting forms a significant part of overall energy consumption by lighting. Besides the energy savings, a shift to LED technology results in an equivalent drop in GHG emissions, about 0.6375 Kg per kWh saved.19 In addition, LEDs have other “green” benefits: They do not emit infrared radiation or harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and do not contain mercury, a toxic metal found in several conventional lighting technologies.

Better citizen security, liveable cities:

LEDs add to a city’s aesthetic appeal vibe, helps improve city branding, and cultivates civic pride. In a 2012 survey by The Climate Group, 80% of those surveyed reported that LED street lighting made them feel safer for reasons such as brighter lighting and better facial recognition.20