Northeast Group has published a study entitled "United States smart infrastructure: LED and smart street lighting" that is based on interviews with more than 100 municipalities that have installed LED-based street lights. The smart-energy-focused research firm found that 95% of the municipalities are pleased with the overall performance of the solid-state lighting (SSL), and that on average the municipalities are realizing a 60% savings in combined energy and maintenance costs.
|LED and smart street-light forecast|
The satisfaction rating applies both to municipality officials and citizens and include both performance and the lighting quality. Moreover, the study notes that law-enforcement and public-safety officials were especially pleased with improved visibility.
Looking forward, the Northeast Group expects technology advancements to provide additional energy savings. Specifically, adaptive controls and dimming could reduce energy usage an additional 20-30%.
The bad news may be in the area of funding. The study reports that 45% of the municipalities surveyed used funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to pay for essentially the entire street-light project. An additional 36% used ARRA funding or other grants to finance a portion of their project.
For the most part ARRA funding is gone with the exception of a few projects currently underway. Fortunately, SSL prices are dropping, making the LED-based lighting more affordable and payback periods shorter.
Northeast Group also projected that "the LED and smart street lighting markets are expected to reach a cumulative $4.7 billion in the US by 2025." Clearly there is still a lot of opportunity in the market segment. The study said that most municipalities that have installed LED lights have done so in a small percentage of their street light inventory. Cumulatively in the US, the study says that the penetration rate of LED street lights is still less than 1%. But there are a lot of companies chasing the market with the study identifying more than 25 active manufacturers.