GROUND breaking technology is helping cut street lighting energy costs and save the planet.
Durham County Council is piloting a revolutionary system in Chester-le-Street on a three-mile section of the A167, one of the busiest roads in the North East.
Street lights can be dimmed and monitored for faults using the internet, doing away with the need to send out patrols at night. Depending on traffic flows, lights can be dimmed by 30% between midnight and 5am but lights at key junctions are kept on full power.
The system, called Leafnut, has been designed by West Yorkshire based Harvard Engineering plc and has the potential to save up to £46 in energy costs and 100 kilograms of carbon emissions for each light.
Light levels on the A167 are reduced when traffic volumes are low but areas leading to the road are unchanged.
Wilf Newall, the County Council’s street lighting manager, said: “It has become increasingly important to identify ways of reducing the amount of electricity used.
“With 86,000 street lights and illuminated traffic signs, street lighting is one of our biggest energy costs.
“Some councils have decided to switch off street lights but we are looking to technology to help us achieve savings and reduce carbon emissions.
“This system lets us do this by reducing light levels at particular times, rather than switching lights off altogether.”
Coun Bob Young, Cabinet member for environment, said: “As well as cutting costs, the system will contribute significantly to our target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”