In the biggest shake-up to street illumination since the jump from gas-powered lanterns, LED technology is becoming more and more widespread on the nations streets.
LED technology is a blessing for local authorities which seem to be under constant pressure from central government austerity. Sandwell Council, the latest council to announce an LED switch, claims they will save £240,000 per year after replacing more than 5,000 street lights.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for highways and environment Maria Crompton said: “Our 30,000 street lights use up a lot of energy and cost a huge amount in terms of electricity.
“There are many benefits to the new LED bulbs, not least the amount of money they will save. This saving is vitally important if we are to continue protecting our front line services.”
The new lights, which use up to 75% less energy than conventional bulbs also represent a great opportunity for councils to reduce their carbon footprint and bolster their green qualifications.
LED bulbs also require less maintenance than their standard cousins. While there is no overwhelming consensus about how long LED bulbs last for, some estimates put their lifespan at as much as 25 years. More than four times longer-lasting than standard street lights which normally burn out after about six years.
Despite the long list of benefits to making the LED switch, take up is still limited across the UK. And councils which are early adopters seem eager to only dip their toe into the technology. Sandwell Council for example only currently has plans to upgrade about 5,000 of its 30,000 street lights.
A recent report by the Scottish Futures Trust sheds some light on the potential for LED streets. Data indicates that of the country’s 890,000 street lights, only five percent are using LED powered street lights.
The report claims that by making the switch to LED streetlights, Scotland’s local authorities could save between 50 and 70 percent on their electricity bills. Taken collectively, this would reduce the total energy spend from £40 million to somewhere between £19 and £24 million, a considerable saving if applied nationwide.
At a time when local authority budgets are contracting and when electricity prices continue to rise, local and national governments would be well served considering the LED alternative.