EU drives take-up of LED streetlights through EPC

The EU-backed Streetlight-EPC initiative aims to stimulate use of energy performance contracting (EPC) to drive take-up of energy-efficient streelighting refurbishment. The project hopes to get 36 EPC projects up and running in nine regions across the EU.  

Most European regions have not yet seen a significant take-up of EPC, which can be a good funding mechanism in streetlighting refurbishment, where there are high energy costs and huge potential for savings. Apart from legal barriers, this can be attributed to the lack of understanding and trust in EPC and the absence of experienced energy service companies (ESCOs) and organisations facilitating the EPC market.

In Europe, streetlighting consumes a significant amount of electricity: there are more than 56 million streetlighting luminaires in operation, with an estimated electricity consumption of 35 TWh. For municipalities with older, inefficient systems, streetlighting can account for 30-50% of their total electricity consumption. The recent market introduction of LED technology for streetlighting offers high savings with comparatively short payback times.

The Streetlight-EPC project creates demand and supply for EPC projects by setting up regional EPC facilitation services. These services provide comprehensive support to both municipalities and SMEs as potential ESCOs. The nine regions in the scheme are Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Ireland, Sweden, Slovenia, Macedonia and Spain.

The project aims to implement 36 EPC projects, triggering investments worth €49 million, achieving annual savings of 32,100 MWh and €4.8 million. It aims to help 18 SMEs to become ESCOs.

A scheme in Palencia, Spain is a pioneer project. The town has a population of 81,000 and has 11,000 lighting points. High-pressure sodium and mercury lamps were being used, frequently with low efficiency and insufficient colour rendering. As a first step, 3,139 luminaires were changed to LED and a dimming control system was installed. The 12-year EPC contract will guarantee energy savings of 75%, with total savings of €2 million.

The Streetlight-EPC project started on 1 April 2014 and will run until 31 March 2017.