Crossmolina in Co Mayo is the first town in Ireland to pilot a new public lighting energy-efficiency scheme. Dubbed ‘Smart Street Lighting’, the Irish Government is piloting the scheme in the Mayo town to use it as a test-bed. The idea will be to evaluate the energy savings that local authorities around the country can make by updating public lighting in towns – creating jobs in the process.
Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte, TD, turned on the new street-lighting pilot scheme in Crossmolina recently, and the Irish Government wants to roll out this public-lighting pilot initiative nationwide as part of its energy-efficiency drive.
‘Cleaner’ economy vision
The aims could be viewed as two-fold.
The Government is on a mission to help Ireland meet its energy-efficiency targets under EU legislation by 2020. It also wants to create new ‘green-collar’ jobs, especially in the construction space, which has seen major jobs losses since the recession hit back in 2008.
With the backing of Crossmolina Community Development Committee and Mayo County Council, the Government picked out Crossmolina to initially pilot the new initiative.
The overarching aims will be to spark off long-term savings to the town and council, as well as encouraging the delivery of other energy-efficiency projects across the country.
There are currently around 420,000 public lights in the Republic of Ireland. The bulk of these lighting systems are operated under the local authorities.
The energy consumption of public lighting is estimated to represent between 15pc and 35pc of the total energy consumption in local authorities, Rabbitte said.
"Therefore, the potential for energy saving in street lighting is very significant."
Crossmolina already has a mix of low and high wattage street lighting. This resulted in it being identified by Mayo County Council as a suitable test project.
Apparently, this pilot initiative will look to test the energy performance contracting (EPC) of new ‘dimming and trimming’ energy saving technology, through which light output can be controlled for each individual light or group of lights.
Through the delivery of this new technology, it is expected that Mayo County Council should continue to achieve cost savings over the lifetime of the project, the Government believes.
Government’s Energy Efficiency Fund
Minister Rabbitte noted that this initiative in Crossmolina has already encouraged Mayo County Council and other local authorities to examine the potential of funding large-scale public lighting renovations as ‘exemplar’ projects under the Energy Efficiency Fund that he launched in February.
Last February, Rabbitte unveiled the first tranche of 22 exemplar energy efficiency projects last June under the Action Plan for Jobs.
Speaking last week, Rabbitte said that these organisations spanning the health, education, manufacturing, services, food and public sectors have taken a bold step and are blazing a trail for others to follow.
These exemplar projects, he said, are designed to help us meet our National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) targets and, in particular, the challenging 33pc energy-savings target that we have set for the public sector.
"Exemplar projects are exciting and innovative and will collectively see investment of up to €55m in energy-saving measures," he claimed.
This in turn is anticipated to generate annual savings of €7m.
Furthermore, Rabbitte believes that the combined projects should help support more than 500 jobs across the country.
This, he said, would be very welcome news given the current economic challenges Ireland is experiencing.
"I am convinced that the lessons learned here will bring benefits to other local authorities who are keen to reduce their energy costs associated with public lighting," he said.
Last week, Rabbitte also gave an exclusive video interview with Siliconrepublic.com in which he detailed wind energy and how Ireland can capitalise on it, create jobs in the long-term and potentially spawn new spin-out companies from bodies such as Bord na Móna and Coillte.