Street lighting is an everyday and necessary element in our lives. Despite all its advantages, it also has some disadvantages. However, technological advances such as LED lights and smart control systems are increasingly helping to make lighting more environmentally friendly while reducing electricity bills.
Here you will learn what public lighting is, the current regulations in Spain, its main advantages and disadvantages, and how remote control and monitoring systems, renewable energy and LED luminaires help to increase safety, effectiveness and efficiency and reduce the environmental impact and economic costs of this service.
Street lighting is a public service that serves to illuminate public streets, public parks and other areas of free circulation for which no natural or legal person under private or public law is responsible. The general purpose of street lighting is to provide adequate visibility for the normal and proper development of activities in these spaces.
In Spain, public lighting as part of outdoor lighting is governed by Royal Decree 1890/2008 of 14 November, which approved the Regulation on the Energy Efficiency of Outdoor Lighting Installations and the complementary technical instructions EA-01 to EA-07.
This regulation describes, among other things, the technical conditions that outdoor lighting installations must meet in order to improve their efficiency, achieve energy savings and consequently reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It also sets out the conditions for limiting night-time light glare, light pollution and the reduction of disturbing or intrusive light that can be caused by such installations.
The supplementary technical instructions were added at a later date to take into account the latest advances in lighting technology, which contribute significantly to improving the energy efficiency of outdoor lighting systems. These advances include LED (Light Emitters Diode) based technologies as well as light source control systems that allow the luminous flux to be adjusted to the existing environmental and ambient conditions. All these developments have also been reflected at the European level in Directive 2009/125/EC, which establishes a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for energy-related products, including light sources.
All these changes in the legal framework, as well as the authorisation of the commissioning of energy service providers by the public administration, have changed and will continue to change the installations we know today for lighting our parks, streets and paths.
Public lighting can account for 40-50% of a municipality's energy consumption. Moreover, due to urban development, this value has increased significantly in recent decades. According to the IDAE (Institute for Diversification and Saving of Energy), Spain has almost 9 million light points with an average power of 156W, so the annual consumption of municipalities is approximately 5,296 GWh.
The efficient and rational use of light contributes to the social and economic development of a community. The main benefits of lighting are:
The main disadvantages of street lighting are:
However, as mentioned earlier, the introduction of new technologies and efficient measures to reduce both pollution and energy consumption can help minimise (or solve) these major problems of public lighting. These are listed below.
Remote control systems, renewable energies and LED lamps are the three basic elements to improve luminosity and reduce consumption in public lighting.
LED luminaires have numerous advantages, some of which we highlight:
One of the most important measures to reduce the impact of street lighting on the environment is to replace traditional lights with those powered by renewable energy. The main types of renewable energy used in public lighting are solar and wind.
Today, there is a wide range of products and solutions: from lighting for small areas to larger areas, systems with or without a pole, systems with motion detectors... Solar LED luminaires have become particularly popular in recent years, as they combine the advantages of LED luminaires with a power supply that is not dependent on fossil fuels and is therefore even more environmentally friendly.
These types of lights are independent of the grid infrastructure, meaning they can be installed in rural areas where grids are weak or there are frequent interruptions and outages of conventional electricity.
They are superior to conventional lighting systems in terms of energy efficiency, operation, maintenance, sustainability and light depreciation.
Finally, they are constantly evolving technologies that are becoming cheaper.
Remote management and monitoring systems for public lighting allow these devices to be monitored and controlled remotely. The intelligent management of public lighting is usually done via a simple and intuitive user interface (installed on control devices such as mobile phones, tablets and computers), which allows actions such as:
The use of these solutions in public lighting allows a high potential for savings in electricity consumption in this type of installation with a simple payback period of 5 to 10 years. The main effects are manifested in the reduction of high levels of illumination (especially late at night), the improvement of lighting quality and the regulation and control of switching on and off of the installation. No less important is their contribution to the sustainability of cities.
At Luxsystems, we have extensive experience both in the design of lighting for streets and public spaces and in studies of energy and economic savings from the implementation of LED lighting. In the field of remote management, we work with leading systems of proven reliability, with implementations in major European and Latin American cities. These systems combine remote management with power quality management systems, geographic information systems (GIS) and management of the municipal inventory and its preventive and corrective maintenance.