With the urgency of climate change in mind, one local authority in Tipperary has begun proceedings to install 600 smart LED street lights in the area. Thurles, Drangan, and Clonoulty will all see the traditional sodium lamp posts converted to the greener alternative. The conversion of the street lights is a joint project with the North West Europe Smart-Space project, which itself involves 12 other European partners.

 

Savings Switching to LED

According to current records, lighting Tipperary's streets is responsible for 35 percent of the County Council's energy consumption. With only 28 percent of the county's streets currently converted to LED lighting, the new installations will go some way to achieving its energy goals.

Delayed somewhat by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new lighting sees Tipperary continuing its efforts to fight climate change. Back in 2017, Tipperary County Council signed up to an energy partnership with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI)  to implement energy-saving measures. With an energy reduction target of 33 percent, the county saw other measures introduced, such as photovoltaic solar panels installed across nine public buildings, saving €25,000+ per annum.

Cost of Conversion

Pursuing cost and energy efficiencies, the new efforts will see 600 smart LED lights installed across the three pilot locations. Inhabitants of Thurles, Drangan, and Clonoulty village can expect to see the new lights being installed over the coming months, with no completion date currently set.

In coordination with the Tipperary Energy Agency, the project sees Tipperary County Council working closely with several European project partners to bring EU nations closer to Net-Zero.

The majority of the costs are being fronted by Interreg North West Europe, funding 60 percent of the project. The remaining 40 percent is made up by the Tipperary County Council.

Energy Savings and EU Fundings

Interreg North West Europe is an EU project to make the north-west European region a "key economic player and an attractive place to work and live, with high levels of innovation, sustainability, and cohesion."

The programme sees €370 million of the European Regional Development Fund invested into projects like Tipperary's street lighting, implementing beneficial changes to life, business, and climate. Through the investment in Tipperary, the new street lights are expected to save approximately 150,000 kWh. This is the equivalent to around 19 home's electricity usage, or 267,159 miles worth of greenhouse gas emissions from a motor vehicle.

Looking ahead, Siona Daly, the CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency, claims:

"...if this Smart-Space lighting project proves to be a success in Tipperary, it could impact national policy and decision-making on public lighting."

What is a Smart Street Light?

Utilising the most up-to-date electrical engineering, smart street lighting provides infrastructure that helps future-proof areas.

Smart street lighting makes use of advances in technology to incorporate features such as light-sensing sensors, cameras, WiFi, and even weather monitoring. The technology installed varies from area to area but always features a light-emitting diode (LED). The lighting network is maintained by a central management system and, through the various sensors, can adjust the lighting automatically. Once implemented, smart street lights can dynamically change their brightness depending on the conditions, making roads safer and also allowing less energy to be used. With the street lights all in communication through the management system, lights can be adjusted automatically for upcoming vehicles or pedestrians.

The lights are future-proofed in the sense that more sensors can be added if required. These can be used to predict the weather, for example, or display digital signs. With cameras installed, they can even be used as a CCTV network to monitor traffic, as well as a broadcast system in the event of an emergency.

Concerns

Through their use of smart lighting spaces, Tipperary County Council is looking to reduce its carbon footprint and prepare the area for the future.

One of the biggest disadvantages to smart lighting is the upfront cost. With steep initial investments and many local authorities already stretched thin, the cost puts the smart street lighting technology out of the question. However, thanks to EU funding schemes and a push for carbon neutrality, we can expect to see more smart street lighting across Europe. With street lighting costing on average 30-40 percent of an area's energy costs, switching to LED also provides an instant 80 percent saving.

With projects such as Tipperary County Council’s project, smart street lighting is now becoming more commonplace. This not only future-proofs Tipperary in terms of technology but globally too, helping reduce further contributions to climate change. 

 

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