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LED street lights: How much energy is actually saved?

Posting in Cities

Is it worth installing LED systems in urban areas?

Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting systems are used in a variety of ways -- from energy-saving in the average home of the consumer to street lights in major urban cities.

But how much energy does implementing this kind of technology actually save? The Climate Group has recently released the findings of a two-and-a-half-year study which examined the use of LEDs in major cities, and how consumers view these lighting systems.

Titled "Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities", the report (.pdf) is aimed at policymakers and city lighting managers who want to further explore the potential of LED technology in urban areas.

Piloting 15 separate schemes in 12 cities across the globe -- including New York, London and Kolkata -- the company found that in some cases, LED technology accounted for an 85 percent reduction in energy costs.

The LED lighting systems under trial indicated that those with a lifespan range of 50,000 – 100,000 hours provided the best return on investment for lighting urban areas and cutting costs. Furthermore, the rate of failure after providing 6,000 hours of lighting was far lower than traditional lights -- at only one percent.

The programme also indicates that citizens of pilot cities prefer LED lighting, citing social and environmental benefits. In Kolkata, London, Sydney and Toronto, between 68 and 90 percent of respondents indicated that they approved of city-wide LED rollouts.

Generally, these opinions manifested from the low failure rate, improved safety and high visibility.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group said:

"This report clearly highlights that LEDs are ready to be scaled-up in towns and cities across the globe. We are now calling on Governments to remove policy obstacles and enable a rapid transition to low carbon lighting.

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. We will be working to recruit a leadership group of city, state and national governments to adopt this and report on progress on an annual basis over the next three years."

The pilot projects were launched as part of the Clean Revolution campaign at the Rio+20 UN Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Forum. It has been produced by The Climate Group in partnership with Philips.

Image credit: Stefano Mortellaro

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure