I was very happy to read in the Sunday Times that there’s a proposal to bring in LED street lighting to Sri Lanka. The company concerned with the project, Carbon Futures is also planning on using local production facilities in partnership with local company RONA Electricals (Pvt) Ltd. The initial investment that they make is not a gift or donation – the company plans on making use of the carbon credits that it will generate to recover the costs. But that’s still great news. At least it will make it possible to reduce the costs of lighting our streets. With development taking place, we will have even more roads to light up, not to mention homes, factories and offices. With better LED lighting, there should be at least some cost benefits to people.
Given that we use oil to generate almost half of our total electricity supply as of 2008 (IEA statistics) any methods of reducing eneregy consumption should be made use of.
Given the low energy consumption of LEDs, one other point that came to mind is that these could be married to a Solar solution. Although established Sri Lankan company SolarTherm also provides a similar solution, it seems to be more of a standalone product, whereas solar panels on street lights could be connected to the national grid. The result would be generation of power during the day (although a small amount, given current power generation capabilities of solar panels) which is fed to the national grid, followed by minimal usage during the night when the lights are in operation. The electricity bill is calculated on the net of the power supplied by the grid and the power used by the lights, so the state should save some money. Apparently, MAS Thurulie uses a similar “netting” method as well, among its many other energy saving methods.
If the news of Solar Power Stations in 2011 turns out to be true, then it would seem that we are already moving towards some sort of renewable energy use. But then again, I’m not sure how long lived the solar powered street lighting initiated in 2006 turned out to be.
It’s also interesting to note that Sri Lanka is better positioned than America to make use of the “Energy Internet” described by Thomas Friedman in “Hot, Flat and Crowded”. Having just one electricity grid, we would be better able to have individuals or companies able to generate their own electricity (using non-fossil fuel methods) feed the grid. Imagine all those houses just exposed to the hot Sri Lankan sun – what if each of them had a Solar panel, feeding the grid during the day, while also reducing everyone’s electricity bill?