UCD spin-out Belfield Technologies to pilot its lighting technology in New Zealand

25 Jun 2013

Fireworks lighting up Queenstown, New Zealand, on the opening night of Winter Festival Weekend. Image via New Zealand 100% Pure Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/purenewzealand)

New Zealand’s local authorities could be on track to save up to €14m per year and reduce the country’s total CO2 emissions by 0.5pc if they deploy a pioneering a new light-saver technology that has been developed by Irish start-up Belfield Technologies, a spin-out from UCD.

Belfield Technologies is an energy-management venture co-founded by Dr Kevin McDonnell, Dr Ger Devlin, David Megan and Brian McDonnell, a team from University College Dublin (UCD) Bioresources Research Centre and UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine.

Kevin McDonnell is now CEO at Belfield Technologies.

Energy costs and carbon footprint

The company has invented the lighting technology called HIDLightSaver, as a result of research into the costs associated with lighting and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps found in street lighting, floodlit arenas, motorways and retail outlets.

The goal, according to McDonnell, is that the lighting technology will enable public and private organisations to reduce their energy costs and carbon footprint.

The New Zealand Transport Authority is now set to pilot the HIDLightSaver technology, starting from this July.

The pilot will run for two months and could deliver a 35pc energy saving for the authority, Kevin McDonnell said.

Following the pilot, Belfield Technologies hopes to roll out the technology across New Zealand.

Technology being deployed in Dublin already

The HID system is already operating and delivering energy savings and CO2 emission reductions in locations in the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown area of Co Dublin.  

The technology came to prominence when Belfield Technologies won an EnviroCom award in 2011 for environmental innovation, as well as winning the Sustainable Energy Innovation Award at the SEAI Energy Show in that same year.

So how does the HID light-saving system work?

McDonnell said the technology has been programmed to manage light voltage levels so energy is not wasted during low usage times.

The system apparently utilises a voltage system that he described as being “intelligent” in order to limit voltage fluctuations and maintain lamp efficacy and colour characteristics.  

This leads to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and “serious” operational and maintenance cost savings, while also prolonging the life of the lamps, said McDonnell.

New Zealand and Ireland: similar needs

In Ireland, there are about 400,000 streetlights, with the running costs for these lights being on average €40m per annum.   

Using the HID unit at the settings demonstrated for streetlights, McDonnell believes the technology would generate an annual saving of €14m on energy costs and a reduction in CO2 emissions of 213,000 tonnes for the local authorities in both Ireland and New Zealand.

He said the two countries have similar requirements in terms of street lights.

“The savings would be similar in both countries.”

Going global

And, following the New Zealand pilot, he believes the international commercial potential for Belfield’s HID unit will be “enormous”.

“The demand-led global market is driven by the need to reduce the increasing cost of light energy consumption,” explained McDonnell.

“The system is completely programmable and compatible with building management systems and is easily retrofitted into existing lighting control systems.”

He also said that winning the EnviroCom Innovation award in 2011 gave the company credibility when presenting its product to a global audience.  

This year’s EnviroCom Awards are open for entries from Irish companies until this Friday, 28 June.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic