Smart urban lighting: How PPPs can accelerate the GCC’s sustainability vision

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Smart urban lighting: How PPPs can accelerate the GCC’s sustainability vision

By Vincent Montanet
Head of Local Energy Networks at ENGIE Solutions GCC, discusses how smart lighting can transform cities, making them more sustainable, efficient, and safer.

As GCC governments boost investment in Smart City projects, the private sector’s strategic role in driving urban transformation is gaining more recognition. Through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), private entities commit funding, technical know-how, and innovation that complement public-sector efforts.

In particular, the private sector can add real value in delivering sustainability-based projects, considered a vital component of the Smart City concept. Global energy leaders like ENGIE have developed and delivered multi-billion renewable power and energy efficiency projects for decades, gaining invaluable experience, establishing robust financing networks and developing the required technology foundation.

Among sustainable Smart City initiatives, street lighting has emerged as a powerful public policy tool for authorities pursuing broader digital transformation goals. With smart lighting, regional cities can transform public spaces and streetscapes, making them more sustainable, efficient, and safer. In a PPP model, the contractor will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Smart Lighting System by replacing existing traditional luminaires with intelligent LED systems or through greenfield projects.

In the UAE, the Abu Dhabi government recently selected Nojoom, a joint venture between ENGIE and EDF, to deliver Phase 2 of its Road Lighting LED public-private partnership (PPP) project.

The project forms part of the broader Abu Dhabi Road Lighting Program and includes the finance, supply, installation, operation and maintenance of 133,473 LED energy-efficient luminaires in the emirate. It is expected to deliver significant electricity savings of almost 2,400 million kWh, equivalent to a reduction of approximately 74% in power consumption, over the 12-year concession period.

Such projects cater to current trends for optimising energy and costs. Street lighting can represent up to 40% of municipalities’ electricity bills, 15% of global power consumption and 5% of greenhouse emissions. Without intervention, this bill will continue to rise as regional cities grow.

Smart lighting helps conserve energy by implementing energy-efficient technologies and optimizing lighting schedules and intensity levels. Switching to LEDs, which are much more energy-efficient than traditional streetlights, can help consume 50% less energy and last up to 25 times longer, reducing the need for maintenance and replacement. It is important to note that the private partner in a PPP will be focused on sourcing a leading and technologically adaptable long-term solution, thus, the low-cost LED alternatives available in the market will not satisfy the long-term efficiency requirements and, consequently, the investment requirements.

Additionally, a smart lighting solution goes beyond LEDs. By optimising lighting schedules and intensity levels based on historical weather patterns and traffic flow, smart lighting systems use control systems and data analytics to lower energy usage while improving public safety and security.

With the ability to adjust lighting levels in real-time, smart lighting systems, combined with LED luminaires, can reduce energy consumption by up to 80% compared to traditional lighting. Smart lighting can also reduce light pollution, which harms wildlife and human health.

Laying the technology backbone for the Smart City

Urban lighting represents an increasingly attractive target for technology-led intervention in smart cities. Intelligent lighting systems leverage advanced technologies such as sensors, wireless communication, and data analytics to provide intelligent and efficient illumination.

Unlike traditional methods, smart lighting responds to changing environmental conditions, such as the time of day, weather, or pedestrian and vehicular traffic. By actively adapting to its surroundings, smart lighting can reduce energy consumption, improve safety and security, and enhance the overall quality of our cities.

Further, smart street lighting infrastructures can form a digital nervous system for the city – connected lighting poles can support WiFi, 5G, or air quality sensors.

Other capabilities can be built into smart lighting systems, including safety and security tools. Such systems can detect and respond to potential hazards, such as a pedestrian crossing a road, and automatically increase lighting levels and alert drivers. This can help reduce the number of accidents and improve the overall safety of streets and public spaces. Smart lighting can also incorporate cameras and alarms to deter crime and increase public confidence.

Smart lighting also helps streamline O&M. Nodes connected to the fixture track, monitor and report any faults and overall contract performance, marking a shift from physical patrols and defect reporting. In such cases, smart lighting can reduce maintenance & operations costs by up to 30%.

Smart lighting also improves the quality of urban spaces by creating more attractive and welcoming environments. With the ability to adjust lighting levels and colour temperatures, smart lighting can enhance the aesthetic appeal of streets, pedestrian and cycle paths, buildings, and public spaces. This can have a positive impact on local businesses and tourism, as well as the mental and physical health of residents.

Ultimately, smart lighting can positively impact the quality of life for residents and visitors by improving energy efficiency, enhancing safety and security, and creating more attractive and welcoming environments. With PPP-based implementations, the long-term benefits of smart lighting make it a worthwhile investment for cities seeking to create sustainable, livable, and smart urban environments.

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