New guide promotes energy efficient public lighting

Submitted by: Jonathan Ramayia, Wednesday, November 7, 2012

<p>The front cover of the SEA public lighting guide which promotes energy efficient public lighting (Image Source: SEA book)</p>

The front cover of the SEA public lighting guide which promotes energy efficient public lighting (Image Source: SEA book)

Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA), has released a brochure that guides local government officials in selecting  energy efficient public lighting technologies. Efficient public lighting guide: In support of Municipal Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management was compiled for local municipalities and funded by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) and in partnership with City Energy Support Unit, the Department of Energy and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The brochure looks at a variety of public lighting technologies employed by municipalities including traffic, street and public building lighting and reviews and compares technologies, capital and operating costs, as well as electricity savings. In recent years, there has been a concerted effort by South African municipalities to implement energy efficient technologies mainly carried out through the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency Demand Side Management (EEDSM) programme but also Eskom’s IDM programme. “The information is designed to support municipal EEDSM strategy and business planning processes and was compiled after we had noticed that in the EEDSM programme, participating municipalities employed a variety of lighting technologies, some of which did not always make sense if the aim was to reduce energy consumption”, says Melusile Ndlovu. “We designed this guideline to outline some of the technologies to assist municipalities with making more informed decisions”.

Office buildings

For public office buildings, a useful comparison of the various lighting technologies commonly employed in municipal buildings is provided on page two of the  brochure where the pros and cons of each technology is listed, arranged from the oldest technology to the newest. Though expensive, Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights outperform all other lights reviewed in all technical parameters. The cons noted are the relatively high initial cost as well as the high number of low quality products available on the market which make it confusing for officials to decide which lights to use. The costs, savings and efficiencies of retrofitting a building with newer fluorescent lamps are also explained towards the end of the document. The information on building lighting is not just for municipalities notes Ndlovu, “it does draw from our experience in the EEDSM programme, but the information is universally applicable to any businesses or organisation that uses lighting in office-type buildings”.

Traffic lighting

Traffic lighting, which forms a large component of lighting needed for municipal operation is also reviewed in the brochure where comparisons are made between the 75W Incandescent; 55W Halogen and LED 8-10W. The guide shows LED as a favourable lighting technology for traffic lights mainly because they last 5-8 years thereby bringing down maintenance costs as opposed to the incandescent lights which have to be changed every four months. The guide estimates that by switching a single incandescent traffic light (3 lamps) to LED will result in a saving of 5,616 kWh and a carbon reduction of 5.8 tonnes CO2e over a ten year period.

Street lighting

Street lighting is also reviewed and a number of different options and energy ratings are calculated for options such as Mercury Vapour, High Pressure Sodium, LED, induction and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL). Two categories of street lighting are reviewed, namely Group A Roads (freeways and major roads) and Group B Roads (streets) Even though the LED varieties given for Group B, which include the 33W and 23W have the highest upfront cost (R3,596 and R3,592 respectively), their total cost over a 20 year period is calculated to be the lowest among all other technologies. The guide also includes a table which shows the street lighting interventions made by municipalities through the EEDSM programme where readers are able to compare the actual kW savings made through each intervention.

Beyond the guide

Although the guide provides a good overview of lighting options in municipalities, Ndlovu notes that other avenues should also be explored, “the brochure is only an introduction to the various technologies that may be used but we encourage municipalities to carry out simple pilot tests that do not require complicated testing stations in order to inform which technology to choose, particularly for street lighting technology. LED for example might not necessarily be the best option for some municipalities, and you might decide to go for another technology after carrying out a test”. Sharing of information and experiences among municipalities is also something SEA encourages, “municipalities can learn from each other on which technologies have worked better for them. There is a wealth of information on different technologies and different suppliers claim they have the best technologies, which might be very confusing for someone tasked with procuring lights. Exchanging information with municipalities who have experience can be useful to clarify or confirm some of these claims”.

Efficient public lighting guide: In support of Municipal Energy Efficiency and Demand Side Management is available for free download on the City Energy Support Unit website.

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Jonathan Ramayia