An independent, global trial of LED street lighting has shown that the technology can generate energy savings as high as 85%.

The findings of LightSavers, a two and a half year global pilot of LED lamps in 15 separate trials across 12 cities including New York, London, Kolkata and Sydney, have been presented for the first time in a new report entitled, ‘Lighting the Clean Revolution: The Rise of LED Street Lighting and What it Means for Cities’.

The report explores the global market status and potential for LED technology and provides guidelines for policymakers and city light managers who want to scale-up and finance large LED retro-fits. The report was launched as part of the Clean Revolution campaign at the Rio+20 UN Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Forum and produced by The Climate Group in partnership with Philips in support of the campaign’s argument that major energy savings can be achieved virtually overnight at relatively little cost .

Key findings from the report:

• Surveys in Kolkata, London, Sydney and Toronto indicated that citizens prefer LED lighting, with 68% to 90% of respondents endorsing city wide roll-out of the technology. Amongst the benefits that were highlighted in these surveys were a greater sense of safety and improved visibility.

• The lifespan of LED lighting trialed ranges from 50,000 to 100,000 hours indicating a high return on investment.

• LED lighting was found to be a durable technology with the need for minimal repairs – the failure rate of LED products over 6,000 hours is around one percent compared, for example, to around ten percent for conventional lighting over a similar time period.

• The LED market is at a tipping point, with white light LEDs (used in outdoor lighting) at the early stage of the technology curve. Market penetration is accelerating as the market is expected to expand by 60% by 2020. A recent ILO report concluded that the green economy could yield up to 60 million jobs – The Climate Group, Philips and partners are calling governments to catalyse the scale-up of LEDs in cities and invest now in order to capitalise on this and create a significant amount of high value jobs across the world.

• The LightSaver trial concludes that LEDs are now mature enough for scale-up in most outdoor applications, to bring the economical and social benefits to the masses.

• The Climate Group and Philips are calling for an international low carbon lighting standard to be created and implemented ensuring that citizens worldwide have access to energy efficient outdoor lighting.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group, commented, “This report clearly highlights that LEDs are ready to be scaled-up in towns and cities across the globe. LED technology is energy efficient, scalable and positively impacts on the public – it is the clean revolution in action. We are now calling on governments to remove policy obstacles and enable a rapid transition to low carbon lighting.

“All new public lighting, both street lighting and in public buildings, should be LED by 2015, with the aim of all public lighting being LED by 2020.

“We will be working to recruit a leadership group of city, state and national governments to adopt this and report on progress on an annual basis over the next three years,” he added.

“A full switch to the latest energy efficient LED lighting solutions provides significant energy savings, a reduction in CO2 emissions, and will transform urban environments”, added Harry Verhaar, head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Philips Lighting. “We believe that by driving this lighting market transition, our LED lighting solutions will create liveable cities for the benefit of residents and visitors.”

Lighting is responsible for 19% of global electricity use and around six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Doubling lighting efficiency globally would have a climate impact equivalent to eliminating half the emissions of all electricity and heat production in the EU. In the US alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40% would save US$53bn in annual energy costs and reduce energy demand equivalent to 198 mid-size power stations.