Lighting specialist Philips reports that it has achieved a “breakthrough” in developing its light-emitting diode (LED) solar-powered road, street and area lighting.
“The LED lighting offers reliable, efficient and cost-effective lighting solutions for each kilometre of road. It has the potential to transform lives in urban and rural areas where there is no access to the electricity grid or where the grid is unreliable,” says Philips account manager for solar road, street and outdoor Jonathan Baer.
Light use accounts for 20% to 40% of power consumption, but renewable energy, particularly solar energy, can potentially reduce power consumption by 80%, says Philips Lighting Africa GM Andre Dehmel.
Baer explains that solar power is cre- ated by converting solar energy into electrical energy while the sun shines during the day. The batteries of the solar system store the electrical energy so that it can be discharged at night to power LED luminaires, which, in turn, provides lighting for the roads.
He notes that LED and solar technologies offer cost and performance opportunities that were previously unachievable. “As a result, the total cost of ownership of our solar-powered LED lighting solutions can be significantly lower than a comparable grid-based solution.”
There are cost benefits, such as lower running costs and higher uptime, in areas where there is an unstable electricity network, and where there is no electricity, says Baer.
Further, the solution does not require the installation of an electricity grid, which is the significant cost driver, he adds, highlighting that it contributes further to the cost effectiveness of the company’s solar-powered LED lighting solution.
In 2012, the Independent Development Trust (IDT) released research findings on the wide-scale use of solar-powered lighting in a rural community, which shows that using this type of lighting offers several benefits, including an enhanced sense of safety and significant cost and time savings, which enables more school homework to be completed by children.
Philips partnered with the IDT for the research project, which formed a part of Philips’ Light Centre project in Africa, which is in its third year. The inititative com- prises lighting projects in rural or unlit areas of Africa, where each project area of 1 000 m2 – the size of a small soccer pitch – is lit with a new generation of solar-powered LED lighting systems, based on fixed eight-metre poles. These will be located at schools, community centres and clinics that are closely linked to communities in rural off-grid or urban semi-grid areas.
These LED lights were implemented at six sites in South Africa, including Cape Town, Ladysmith and Mpumalanga.
“Light Centres will create communal areas, which can be used for sport, healthcare clinics, education and evening classes, social events and commercial activities,” says Baer.