In competition with companies in the USA and Israel, Vattenfall is developing a system for remote control of outdoor lighting in cities and public areas. The control system can be fitted in the majority of existing lamp posts, regardless of make of light fitting. "In the past, the municipality might receive a phone call from someone if a street light was shining into their bedroom and disturbing them. They were then obliged to go out and make changes in the junction box. The problem can now be resolved with a click in a software program," says Robert Lindström, project manager at Complimentary Business in Vattenfall Eldistribution.
Connected lighting network offers great potential
Reduced running and maintenance costs for owners of street lighting networks is the most important aim, but it will also be possible to connect up additional equipment, such as temperature gauges, motion detectors and traffic meters, depending on need. When data traffic is transferred through the existing electricity cables, an internet for lamp posts is created, opening up a large range of applications.
"This is something that the customers – municipalities as well as owners of street lighting networks such as ourselves – have not had, and we are continually receiving new suggestions for areas of use in our talks with them. One example is a municipality that wanted to monitor a recycling station. We were able to connect up a surveillance camera in an existing lamp post."
New charging possibilities
A two-year pilot project in Askersund has also investigated excess capacity in the street lighting network and what can be done with it. "In many cases the lighting network was built over fifty years ago, at which time output was about 125 watts. In the best case, today's technology supplies the same luminance with 25 watts. LED lights for footpaths can have an output of just 18 watts. So we have been able to install charging stations for electric cars, electric bikes and mobile phones in the existing street lighting network," says Lindström.
After the pilot project in Askersund, Vattenfall will now market the product and the first installation, also in Askersund, will commence in January. "We have parties interested in more commercial projects, but nothing definite as of yet," says Lindström.