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LEDs to bathe London's Tower Bridge in Olympic gold and silver

LEDs to bathe London's Tower Bridge in Olympic gold and silver

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Iconic Victorian structure will tap energy efficient lighting to turn colors on occasions like the Games, New Year's Eve and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

London will gussy up its iconic, century-plus old Tower Bridge with modern energy efficient LED lighting as it prepares to bathe the iconic structure in gold and silver hues for the 2012 Olympics.

The lights will change colors and intensity, allowing the city to alter the bridge’s look to suit occasions such as the Olympics, New Years Eve and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Mayor Boris Johnson claimed in a press release that the LEDs will help reduce energy consumption for lighting the bridge by up to 40 percent compared to today’s 25-year-old lighting scheme. What’s not clear is if that takes into account the possibility that London will use the lights more than it uses its existing lights.

LEDs - light emitting diodes - require only 20 percent of the energy required to run incandescent bulbs.

Partners include lighting provider General Electric and design firm Citelum, which has created lighting schemes at the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower, and Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Tower.  France’s EDF, which is one of the UK’s “Big 6” utility operators, is also part of the project.

Tower Bridge, completed in 1894, is recognizable by its two 213-foot high Gothic turrets and for a pair of 143-foot high aerial walkways far above the bridge’s road. It spans 801 feet across the River Thames, with two end sections that are suspension bridges sandwiching a middle drawbridge. It sits near the Tower of London, the fabled fortress and prison that dates back to the 11th century.

Photo: Wikimedia

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure