Against a backdrop of global economic slowdown, funding is becoming limited. Streetlights and outdoor lighting are among a city’s or a company’s most important and expensive assets, typically accounting for a third of its electricity bill. With energy prices increasing, this is driving the demand for energy-conserving technologies for outdoor lighting. Maintenance costs are also increasing, with huge numbers of lamps nearing the end of their serviceable life. The Kyoto Protocol compels signatory states to implement rigorous energy conservation programs. This, in turn, puts pressure on various bodies to reduce their CO2 emissions. In addition, ecologically minded governments are responding to the reports of light pollution adversely affecting the nocturnal natural environment.
The introducing project is about designing and developing of an innovative mechanism that can manage outdoor lighting in an intelligent way in order to save an amount of energy. By combining this intelligent system with dimming techniques, the energy savings can reach 67%. The functionality of this mechanism is based on the fact that outdoor lighting remains during night hours at the maximum level of lighting even if there is no traffic of any kind around the area. This leads to energy waste and increases the cost.
The basic functionality of the system is to maintain lighting at a low level until vehicle or pedestrian motion is detected. In this case, the level of lighting is increased in order to provide better visibility while the area is occupied and dims to a lower level when the area is clear again.
The short range of wireless communication is overcome in a network by hopping messages up and down the network. In this way, ranges of many tens of km can be achieved using low-cost radio technology.
Streetlights are ideal for wireless communication because they have the height, which enables wireless service coverage of 350m or more, and the spacing of streetlights means that many lights are in range of each other. Hence, if a node were to fail, an alternative route could be found. The streetlights must be powered, so this energy is also available for the wireless streetlight controller. Each lamp controller communicates with the data centre via a gateway. Typically 500 streetlights will be associated with one gateway. The network structure is a tree, which could be of any shape. For example, long and thin for highways and dense ‘bush’ shaped in car parking areas. At the root of the tree is the gateway.
The network topology is handled automatically by the software, which maintains the optimum network shape and will self-heal from any failures within the network. The street lighting application simply submits and receives data packets from the network software, which will route the messages to the appropriate destination. The control centre will consist of a large database, with all the streetlights updating the database with sensor readings and lamp-life data. Using this data, the server can automatically dim some or all of the lamps by sending messages into the network.
Because of the increased energy savings many companies and institutions have expressed their interest in installing this system to their existing infrastructure in order to reduce costs based in electrical energy consumption. It is expected to attract more customers when a product will be ready for demonstration in real life conditions.
It is estimated that the demand after the demonstration of our product will be between 6 and 10 installations per year for the first two years. These data have come from discussions with public authorities and electronic polls.
By the end of the development phase, all data will be evaluated from the beginning by taking into account the current status of both the market and our company. After a short time period of reevaluating and reconsidering our strategy we will begin designing our further steps in order to enter a new phase for playing a significant role in the market.