opinion4 min read

From ‘Expense’ to ‘Asset’: the ultimate guide to commercialising your lighting infrastructure

As the energy crisis continues, the team recently got together to discuss the recent ILP Local Authority Energy Crisis CPD event, and the challenges lighting professionals are facing maintaining and upgrading their public realm lighting infrastructure.

We wanted to help. We know many LA’s need more budget to invest in new lighting. And we know some of you feel like central government isn’t listening. We wanted you to know we feel your pain.

The industry must unite and focus on innovation

So, how do we as (as a collective) come together to fight budget pressures?

We agree we need a united voice. There were some excellent suggestions by the keynote speakers including Perry Hazell, ILP Junior Vice President and business Manager at Southwark Council – who suggested a country-wide energy procurement system.

However, we believe the turning tide is beginning to see lighting infrastructure as an asset rather than an expense.

To help we have put together our guide to commercialising your lighting assets and making them cost-neutral. We hope that you can save money and generate revenue by implementing some of our suggestions!

Our top tips:

Adaptive Lighting – use only what you need

Allan Howard, Group Technical Director, Lighting and Energy Solutions WSP, ILP presentation looked at the argument’s engineers can and should make when asked by their authority to switch off.

It’s an important point to highlight that Local Authorities are not legally obliged to provide street lighting but if they do, they must maintain it: which has led many to consider removing assets – but, the associated costs of removal can be prohibitive.

Given the choice most LA’s would prefer to dim rather than switch off. There are a number of arguments about whether lighting levels should be lowered but given the choice our vote would always be to dim rather than trim (switch off).

Adaptive lighting: systems that use sensors to adjust the brightness of streetlights based on the ambient light levels, means streetlights can be dimmed during off-peak hours or when there’s enough natural light. By reducing the energy consumption of streetlights, you can save still save money and make your lighting assets more cost-effective

Switch to 10/10 photocells – because every little helps

Older photocell systems are less accurate and efficient than new 10/10 photocells. These newer devices have perfect or near-perfect sensing accuracy or sensitivity. The term “10/10” indicates that the sensor can detect or respond to the smallest or faintest amount of light, such as a change in the ambient light levels, with high precision and reliability. Switching to 10/10 photocells can help LAs save as much as 58 hours per annum, which when you multiply by a typical lighting inventory of 13,000 lanterns could save thousands in energy costs. Additionally, 10/10 photocells can be integrated with adaptive lighting systems to reduce energy consumption further.

Switching Mindset – lighting as an Asset

Here is the real game changer. While traditional streetlights have only one function, they have the potential to offer much more. The humble lamppost can be transformed into an asset that generates revenue for LAs. For example, streetlights can be equipped with sensors and Wi-Fi hotspots to provide connectivity to the public. This can be especially beneficial in remote areas where internet connectivity is limited.

Furthermore, the addition of sensors, such as Air quality monitors, Footfall counters or Traffic monitors, ultimately unlocks the potential to provide data to various companies for research.

Infrastructure for so much more

LAs can earn revenue by harnessing the power of the humble post top and providing infrastructure for 5G, Wi-Fi, CCTV, and electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. This can be done by integrating equipment with streetlights, which can be leased to telecommunication companies, EV charging providers, and CCTV operators. By monetising your lighting assets, LAs can generate revenue that can be reinvested in maintaining and upgrading lighting infrastructure.

And lastly, here’s one that may not have crossed your mind:

Seeing Solar Street Lighting as energy storage systems

One potential option for LAs looking to make their lighting assets cost-neutral is to explore using solar energy storage systems.

Solar energy storage systems collect energy from the sun using solar panels, which convert the energy into electricity. The electricity is then stored in batteries for later use, which can be used to power streetlights during times when the sun isn’t shining, or energy demands are higher.

While the initial installation costs of solar are not insignificant, the long-term benefits are substantial. LAs can reduce their energy bills, lower their carbon footprint, and harvest energy to power secondary assets such as CCTV, air pollution monitors or speakers.

At Acrospire, we are committed to supporting LAs in finding innovative solutions to make their lighting infrastructure more cost-effective. Contact hello@acrospire-uat.7dots.build to discuss what options are available to you. 

With these ideas in mind, let’s turn your lighting assets into a valuable asset rather than an expense!