COUNCIL ENGINEER SAYS LED LIGHTS CAN CUT ENERGY BILLS BY ONE THIRD Michael Fisher
Carrickmacross News The Northern Standard Thursday 2nd April p.20
The installation of LED road lighting in parts of Carrickmacross and other areas is helping to reduce significantly Monaghan County Council’s energy bills. The head of a special unit in the Council set up to achieve energy efficiencies told Councillors in the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District that the Council intends to reduce its energy use by one-third by 2020. Senior Executive Engineer Alan Hall said the digital LED lights were now the first preference for new public projects, unless there was no advantage. He said they could provide energy savings of between 50% and 60% and the cost of their installation could be paid back through savings within two years.
Since 2011, a number of councils in Britain in cities such as Birmingham and Glasgow have already made the switch to LED lights. They were chosen because they use less energy, and are cheaper to operate and more environmentally friendly than conventional sodium bulbs. The sodium street lamps light up when an electric current is passed through lithium gas, making it glow. Lamps powered by LEDs — light-emitting diodes — glow when current passes through a solid material, known as a semiconductor.
They use up to 60 per cent less energy than sodium lamps and are said to last up to eight times longer, reducing maintenance costs and halving electricity bills. The LED lights are also easy to operate as they produce light immediately when they are switched on rather than taking time to heat up, and can be controlled remotely via digital sensors. It is claimed that their bright ‘floodlight-style’ beams help to deter criminals. But in some housing estates in England, where LED lights have been installed, they have proved to be unpopular with residents, who believe their brightness can interrupt sleep patterns.
Following Mr Hall’s presentation, a motion was proposed by Fianna Fáil Councillor PJ O’Hanlon, seconded by his party colleague Councillor Padraig McNally: “That this Council calls on the Minister for Energy Alex White that additional funding be given to Monaghan County Council as a result of a new section (being) set up, i.e. Corporate Assets and Energy Unit, as in our area we only have €45,000 per year for Public Lighting and the projected saving for our area is approx. €130,000 per year”. The motion was passed unanimously. Another motion on alternative energy put forward by the two Sinn Féin members, Councillor Colm Carthy and Councillor Noel Keelan was also agreed:
“That the Carrickmacross-Castleblayney Municipal District writes to Alex White T.D. (Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources) to request information on any future plans to introduce rebates for consumers to sell energy back to the Grid using PV solar panels. This will allow for cheaper and cleaner energy usage throughout the state if implemented”.
You may wish to look a little deeper into quite how eco-friendly LED street lights really are. There is a trade-off between energy efficiency and environmental pollution through a significant increase in blue-rich, short wavelength emissions. As such, LED outdoor lighting which uses blue-pump LED technology is not the panacea that the lighting industry would have us believe.
I appreciate your comment. I am not an engineer. However I did try to include something about the reservations some people have about LED lights in the article. “But in some housing estates in England, where LED lights have been installed, they have proved to be unpopular with residents, who believe their brightness can interrupt sleep patterns”. I think that is why the location of LED lighting should be carefully chosen. What is suitable for an open road might be much less suitable in a housing estate environment.