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Significant municipal energy savings possible through smart street lighting

Global electricity consumption from street lighting could be slashed with smart cameras and sensors turned on, reducing emissions and advancing the energy transition, says the International Energy Agency.

Smart street lighting can reduce electricity use by up to 80% via efficiency improvements, saving local authorities money while helping to advance the energy transition, states a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

There are 320 million street lighting poles worldwide, many of which could turn to smart street lighting in the future. (Photo by Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty)

The electricity consumption of the 320 million street lighting poles in use globally is equivalent to Germany’s total annual electricity consumption. For a municipality, street lights can constitute up to 65% of electricity budgets. However, only 3% of these street lights are “smart”, the report states.

Smart street lights use a combination of efficient LED fixtures and poles equipped with cameras and sensors. The streetlights can adjust their output according to ambient light levels, helping to lower peak power demand. Solar PV modules that harvest clean electricity can also be used to power the street light, says the report.

Highlighting the benefits of such projects, in 2019 the Indian Ministry of Power installed ten million smart LED street lights, avoiding almost 1,161MW of peak electricity demand and reducing annual carbon emissions by 4.8 million tonnes.

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To boost the deployment of smart-enabled street lights in cities, the report suggests governments look to develop public-private partnerships.