As we mark the shortest day of the year, we’re putting the finishing touches to a major, three-year project to improve street lighting across the city.
Since the end of 2018, we’ve upgraded more than 55,000 lanterns with energy efficient LED lights. These use around 60% less energy than previous lamps and as a result it is estimated they will generate savings of £54m over 20 years. The street lighting energy bill had already dropped by 55% in November compared to the same month in 2018.
Changes will have a significant impact on Edinburgh’s carbon footprint, helping the Capital achieve its net zero 2030 goal. Council emissions dropped by 11% between 2020 and 2021, which has been mainly attributed to a fall in energy consumption, with new LED lights accounting for a third of this reduction. Carbon emissions attributed to street lighting alone were 66% lower in November compared to November 2018.
In addition, the new lamps use ‘white light’ technology giving off a clearer, crisper light, enhancing community safety by making CCTV images clearer and by allowing light levels to be varied. They also last for more than 20 years compared to previous lights’ life span of two to four years.
Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said:
“This has been a huge project spanning more than three years and I know the team has worked extremely hard to deliver the changes despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
What’s fantastic is that we’re already beginning to feel the benefits of new, energy efficient street lighting. Not only are we saving on costs, but we’ve seen carbon emissions drop thanks to lower energy use. These are exactly the kind of changes we need to make to become a resilient, net zero city.”
There are currently around 65,000 street lights in Edinburgh – 10,000 of these were already energy efficient before the improvement project began so were excluded from the project.
Prudential borrowing of £24.5m for the project was approved by Council on 19 November 2015. It is anticipated to deliver revenue savings of £3.6m and avoid costs of more than £54m associated with increasing energy prices over the next 20 years.
Energy efficient street lighting – key facts
• New light fittings will be close to 100% recyclable and won’t contain the hazardous substances (sodium and mercury) that existing lamps do.
• Light output is more controlled and concentrated on the roads and footways. The orange sky glow that is seen on cloudy nights is also reduced.
• Surrounding areas away from direct light will be returned to their natural state benefiting nocturnal animals. There will be more of a chance to see stars from your garden too.
• LED street lights don’t like high temperatures, making Scotland the ideal country to use them. (The cooler the temperature the better the light works).
• Our street lighting carbon use had fallen 66% in November 2021 compared to the baseline month.
Find out more about the LED street lighting programme online.