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Local authorities switched on to LED lighting

With clocks going back an hour marking the end of British Summer Time and thereby triggering the onset of earlier darker evenings, many local authorities are protecting themselves against hefty electricity bills by installing LED street lamps.

At this time of year when nights get darker earlier, consumption of electricity for street lighting rockets. Across Scotland, there’s nearly 900,000 street lamps that cost local authorities £41 million in electricity charges and maintenance costs each year, burning 199,091 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

However, for those local authorities that have implemented recommendations from the Scottish Futures Trust’s (SFT) Street lighting Toolkit and installed Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps, they will be in a for a pleasant surprise when opening their next electricity bill as it will be dramatically reduced.

Last year, SFT and partner organisations the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland and Scottish Government launched the Street Lighting Toolkit aimed at giving all local authorities the tools required to assess what lamps they could install, that in turn would pay for themselves in a matter of years. Already during this financial year (2014/15), local authorities across Scotland have committed £25m for new LED technology, with that figure predicted to increase substantially over the next three years.

An SFT study indicated that for an investment of £300 million in LED lighting across the whole of Scotland, up to £900 million of avoided costs could be achieved over a 20 year period.

Vivienne Cockburn, director of corporate services and low carbon at SFT, explained: “With local authorities under constant pressure to make best use of limited budgets, installing LED lighting is an excellent way of saving money and helps protect the environment at the same time.

“For those local authorities that have already adopted this new technology, not only will it make a huge difference to their electricity bills, but will also make the streets safer as the light given off by LED lamps is so much brighter.”

Will Dawson convener of Dundee City Council's City Development Committee said: “We were delighted to be able to invest in improving the quality and efficiency of street lighting in many of our residential streets whilst also delivering annual energy savings. Street lighting is obviously a vital component of road safety but it is also a crucial part of making people feel safe by creating well-lit communities."

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “It is important that communities living close to low carbon infrastructure developments can see tangible benefits. It is excellent to see how local authorities investing in energy efficient street lighting projects are achieving long term savings as well as supporting environmental objectives. We are committed to providing support for local authorities to help fund energy efficiency measures through the continued support available through the Scottish Futures Trust and have provided financial support through our Salix Finance interest free loans scheme to support early implementers stimulating work across Scotland. Salix has paid and committed £6.1 million to 14 councils for street lighting work.”

Case study:

Dundee and Perth & Kinross Councils Following the publication of SFT’s Street Lighting Toolkit, both Dundee City and Perth & Kinross Councils started to transform their residential and urban areas with modern and improved LED street lighting. In just a short space of time, both councils are already reaping the benefits.

The new LED solution has not only helped reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs, but has provided a much better light quality that has improved safety and security. On a number of Dundee’s main roads and residential streets over 500 old-fashioned lights and fittings have been replaced by new LED street lights, and in Perth & Kinross nearly 800 old lamps are soon to be replaced.

Already annual energy savings of 670,000kWh are expected, which will deliver annual savings of over £73k, representing an energy saving of 71% and a carbon reduction of nearly 7,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 20 year life of the new lights.