Cities around the globe are expected to invest $64 billion in LED and smart streetlights by 2025, according to new research from the Northeast Group, LLC. This will translate into 84 percent of the world’s streetlights using LEDs with 37 percent of them networked or smart.
Earlier this year, President Obama announced the Presidential Challenge for Advanced Outdoor Lighting, calling for local cities to upgrade 1.5 million streetlights. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that local governments can reduce their outdoor lighting bills by 50 percent or more. Energy-saving incentives are expected to help drive LED lighting adoption.
At this point, there are more than 2,000 LED and smart streetlight projects underway across 90 countries, according to the report. Some of these projects also are using sensors, communications and analytics software to create smart cities, as part of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) industry, enabling even higher cost savings.
The single biggest benefit for cities and municipalities is cost savings in terms of lower energy consumption and lower maintenance costs, as long as the right LED driver is selected. In previous discussions with leading LED manufacturers, they noted that the weakest link in luminaire designs is the LED driver, which plays into maintenance costs. So in addition to carefully selecting the right LED for the job – taking into consideration key specs including lumen per watt, correlated color temperature (CCT) and color rendering index (CRI), lighting designers also need to make sure they are selecting a reliable and compatible driver.
In many cases, cities and municipalities are finding that LEDs deliver reliability, efficiency as well as a better quality of light compared to some traditional technologies such as high pressure sodium lamps used in street lighting. Two of the biggest projects in the U.S. cited in the Northeast Group report are in Los Angeles and Florida. Los Angeles plans to network the 140,000 LED streetlights it recently deployed and Florida Power & Light expects to network 500,000 street lights. However, the largest single-city project is in Madrid with 225,000 lights.
But the move toward LED street lights would not be underway without a couple of things happening first – lower LED pricing and significant improvements in LED technology.
"With LEDs approaching cost parity with legacy streetlights, their energy and maintenance savings make the business case a no-brainer. By 2025, LED and smart streetlights around the world will save 97,900 GWh annually, the equivalent of $12.9 billion in electricity costs per year. Smart street lighting will also pave the way for additional 'smart city' applications such as smart parking meters, environmental sensors and video monitoring," said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, in a statement.
The price of LED street lights has dropped enough where payback periods are becoming more attractive to cities, according to a recent report from Navigant Research. The research firm forecasts that the installed base of LEDs in street lights globally will grow from 13.2 million in 2014 to 116 million in 2023.
On the technology side, new generation LEDs from manufacturers like Cree, Osram and Philips Lumileds provide high lumen output, high efficiency and high reliability for outdoor lighting. In many cases, the improvements enable the use of fewer LEDs in a design, translating into smaller fixtures for a lower overall system costs.
Some other vendors vying for a piece of the pie, said Northeast Group, include Acuity, Bridgelux, Cooper, Echelon, Elster, GE, Itron, Schreder, Sensus, Silver Spring Networks and Toshiba.
If you have a new LED product or technology that’s a good fit for street lighting and other outdoor lighting applications, along with “smart” controls, let me know about it. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.