LED street lighting delivers up to 85 percent energy savings in global trial

Results from a global trial of light-emitting diode (LED) street lights confirm that the fixtures can deliver electricity savings of up to 85% over existing technologies. The two-and-a-half-year pilot, called LightSavers, tested 533 LED lamps in 15 trials in 12 cities, including New York, London, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Sydney.

Findings from the trials are presented in a report co-released by The Climate Group, electronics giant Philips, and HSBC earlier this month on the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit. The Climate Group launched LightSavers in 2009, supported by the HSBC Climate Partnership, with the goal to accelerate the market adoption of outdoor LED lighting and smart-lighting controls.

Key findings from the report, Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities, include:

LED’s achieve the expected 50 to 70% energy savings, and reach up to 80% savings when coupled with smart controls. Energy savings in the trials vary from 18% to 85%, with 20 out of 27 products achieving savings of 50% or more, and ten showing savings of 70% or more.

Surveys in Kolkata, London, Sydney, and Toronto indicated that between 68% to 90% of respondents endorsed LED’s city-wide roll out. Benefits highlighted included improved safety and visibility.

LED lighting lifespan ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 hours indicating a high return on investment.

The ‘catastrophic’ failure rate of LED products over 6,000 hours is around 1%, compared, for example, up to 10% for ceramic metal halide fixtures over a similar time period.

The Climate Group and Philips are calling for an international low carbon lighting standard to be created and implemented ensuring that citizens worldwide have access to energy efficient outdoor lighting.

“I believe that improving financing approaches will significantly advance the adoption of LED lighting technologies in the coming months. The results clearly show the financial and energy savings of implementing LED’s. Now, cities will have to figure out how to work the funding into their upcoming budgets.”

In California, to cite another example, support for LED street lights project financing has come from the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the U.S. Department of Energy. In January, Justin Gerdes reported at Forbes that 10 California cities, several of them quite small, had used funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to undertake LED street lighting retrofit projects. Since I published that post, the CEC has announced that about a dozen more California cities have launched LED street lighting retrofit projects courtesy of the same ARRA-funded Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant program.

So confident are the report partners in the potential of LED lighting they want LED’s to become the global lighting standard. “All new public lighting – both street lighting and in public buildings – should be LED by 2015, with the aim of all public lighting being LED by 2020,” said the Climate Group’s Kenber in a statement.

I believe that LED outdoor luminaires have reached maturity in terms of their performance. City lighting managers from across the world have independently verified that LED’s can live up to their promise of exceptional perfor-mance, energy efficiency, and public approval, with indicators pointing towards stabilization in light output in many products after an initial period of volatility.

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