LED lights cut power use

13:32, Apr 08 2009

New Zealand still has not decided what to do with inefficient street lights but Christchurch businesswoman Nicola Martin thinks she has an answer.

Two years ago, then prime minister Helen Clark said public lighting was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from local councils.

Poorly designed and implemented street lighting cost councils from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of their emissions.

For all its innovation such as using gas from landfill to power QE II Park Christchurch City Council still paid almost $4 million for street lighting in 2007, 35 per cent of its annual power bill.

The New Zealand Efficient Lighting Strategy, released last year, has eliminating inefficient street lights as one of its goals.

Martin, an Englishwoman who moved to New Zealand six years ago, wants to replace the country's existing 340,000 street lights, which are mostly high-pressure sodium lamps, with light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

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Martin, managing director of Solar Bright, said her company was testing the lights to confirm overseas findings of energy savings between 40 per cent and 80 per cent.

LED bulbs also lasted up to five times longer.

In its first few years of operation, Solar Bright has specialised in lighting for parks, car parks, reserves, walkways, billboards and security lights, but is expanding into LED technology.

The company's first solar street light trial was with Kaikoura District Council in 2007. After 18 months the council noted the lights could be brighter but endorsed the lights for areas where it was difficult to connect to mains power.

Solar Bright now has lights in Christchurch, Timaru, Gisborne and Carterton.

Martin said the company did not want to replace all street lights with solar versions, but said the lights were cost effective in rural areas or places not near cabling.

The Press