Energy efficiency continues to be overlooked as a way of meeting the Paris Agreement, but according to the International Energy Agency it could enable the world to achieve more than 40% of the emissions cuts needed to keep global temperature rises at no more than 1.5°C. A global switch to LEDs is one of the most actionable and ready-to-implement technologies for cities to transition to a low carbon economy. This is especially important given that lighting accounts for nearly 6% of global CO2 emissions, with outdoor street lighting accounting for 25-50% of a city’s entire electricity use. A global switch to LEDs could save over 1,400 million tons of CO2, stopping the construction of 1,250 power stations.
The Climate Group, in partnership with Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), are working to accelerate the adoption of LED street lighting in cities around the world, and have called for all cities and utilities to switch LED street lighting by 2025. We are also driving a more urgent goal for all indoor lighting across the private sector to be LED by 2020. In order to drive these changes, we are working to create a network of leading companies and governments to speed up knowledge sharing.
At the recent Sustainability with Smart LED Lighting event held in Baarn, Netherlands, city officials, policymakers and lighting industry professionals gathered to learn more about the role of energy efficiency in reducing global emissions. The results of a survey carried out at the event showed that while more than half of the attendees were aware of the energy and costs savings LEDs could bring, only 5% were fully committed to implementing policies to save energy in public lighting.
At the event, Toby Morgan, LED Program Manager at The Climate Group, spoke on the need to drive LED scale-up in cities around the globe, and highlighted the positive impacts of installing LEDs – in terms of both energy and financial savings. Other speakers included Annemarie van Doorn from the Dutch Green Building Council and officials from the municipalities of Groningen, Ilsselstein and Breda. These municipalities have already made positive commitments to improve energy efficiency in their areas.
Groningen is currently preparing a tender to replace roughly a third of its total area of street lights with smart LEDs and has estimated savings of approximately 550 tons in CO2 emissions. Alongside this, Ilsselstein is aiming to replace 5,580 street lights with smart LEDs, which is expected to reduce maintenance costs as well as increasing the neighborhood’s safety and Breda has a plan to make roughly 8,400 of their street lights sustainable within the next two years.
With LED lighting, cities and municipalities can expect to make energy savings of between 50-70%, alongside reduced maintenance costs. The event also highlighted the additional socio-economic benefits of smart LEDs which were of huge value to the city officials that attended. Examples of these benefits include a centralized management system to control and monitor the street lights remotely, improved road safety, reduction in crime and pollution monitoring. LEDs also enable municipalities to explore smart city options and it has been estimated that by 2025, smart cities will have a market value of over $2 trillion.
WHAT HAVE OTHER CITIES DONE?
Our LightSavers project – a global trial of LED street lighting – showcased that LEDs are ready for large-scale roll out and that many cities have already made the switch. Early adopters such as Los Angeles are reporting energy bill savings of 63%.
Unfortunately, there are still many major global cities that have not yet adopted LEDs. We launched a Global LED Consultation to explore the reasons behind this, the results showed that while technological setbacks have largely been overcome, specific challenges remain, including access to funding and policy barriers.
While it is encouraging that many municipalities of the Netherlands have plans to implement LEDs, there is still a lot that needs to be done. The Climate Group will continue to raise awareness of the multiple benefits for cities to adopt energy efficient LED street lighting.