All public lighting should go LED by 2020, says green NGO

Environmental NGO The Climate Group has called on governments around the world to upgrade all lighting in streets and public buildings to LED by 2020.
The challenge comes on the back of a major trial in nine cities around the world, which concluded that LED technology is already mature enough for ‘most outdoor applications’ and can offer dramatic energy savings.


The two-and-a-half-year trial, organised by The Climate Group and sponsored by Philips Lighting, saw city lighting managers test more than 500 LED luminaires, representing 27 different products.

Only six of them failed in the first 6,000 hours – a rate of just one per cent.

The trials took place in nine cities that are members of the Climate Group’s LightSavers consortium, including London, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong and Kolkata. They were conducted in 2009-2012, with each test lasting between about nine and 23 months.

The Climate Group’s report, launched yesterday at the UN’s Rio+20 sustainability conference, revealed that the LED products tested achieved 50 to 70 per cent savings, and up to 80 per cent when combined with controls.

The report said that many products showed ‘behaviour consistent with claimed lifespans of 50,000 to 100,000 hours’ (although they weren’t able to test them for that long) and that the LED products generally showed ‘very little change in colour’. In surveys of people living in the areas where LED lighting was tested, the vast majority said they preferred it to what was there previously, and would support the use of LEDs for all city streetlights.

The Climate Group’s CEO Mark Kenber 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 streetlighting 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 report predicted that LEDs will soon ‘reach far beyond any competing technology and become the technology of choice for most applications’, with energy savings reaching up to 90 per cent compared to conventional technologies. Companies that invest in LED now will benefit most, it said, from a market predicted to be worth as much as $90 billion by 2020.

The Climate Group called on local and national governments to become early adopters of LEDs and use economic policies to help other lighting owners overcome the uncertainty and upfront cost associated with moving to the new technology. Governments should adopt economic models that account for the long-term savings and other benefits provided by LEDs, the report said, such as asset leasing and public-private partnerships.

With lighting responsible for 19% of global electricity use, cutting energy usage represents a huge opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and increase global prosperity, the organisation said.

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