Switch to Smart Street Lighting

The article takes a review of the replacement of traditional street lights with LEDs, barriers in its replacement, solutions and outlook for the street lighting. – Supriya A Oundhakar, Associate Editor

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Switch to Smart Street Lighting

The United Nations report estimates that India will have added 416 million urban dwellers by 2050. The burgeoning urbanisation and migration to cities have generated the need for upgradation of the aging infrastructure while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions by the use of energy efficient resources. Further, rising global warming has also accelerated the need for sustainable living. Energy efficiency, sustainable resources, advancement in digital technology have led to the rise of the smart cities concept. The Indian government has committed to develop 100 smart cities and 99 cities have already been declared as part of the US$ 14 billion mission. The lighting industry will play a major role in ensuring sustainability and energy saving.

The street lighting in India has been undergoing transformations with advent of the government’s initiatives like UJALA, the smart cities mission and Street Lighting National Program (SLNP). Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) under the of Ministry of Power has launched the SLNP program for the replacement of conventional street lights with LEDs with the objective of mitigating climate change, reducing energy consumption in lighting that helps DISCOMs to manage peak demand. EESL has set the target of 1.32 crore for replacement of traditional street lights. As of April 2019, EESL has replaced 89.15 lakh street lights in 1,400 Indian cities with LEDs.

Venkatesh Dwivedi, Director (Projects), EESL is optimistic about the development of smart cities and future of lighting industry in the country. He feels, this ambitious goal will make a huge difference, enabling peak demand reduction of 1,500 MW, annual energy savings of 900 crore kWh, reduction in 62 lakh tonnes of CO2 and development of smart cities. “EESL has a bright and promising future as India is observing a revolution in the areas of light management with the rise of smart cities. Lighting will play a significant role in the development of smart cities of the future,” avers Dwivedi.

The LED lighting manufacturers have geared up themselves to cater to the rising demand of LEDs across the country. Sumit Joshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify India Innovations Ltd foresees a growing demand for smart street lighting in India over the next few years. Signify India, formerly known as Philips Lighting India, has installed Philips Amplight connected street lighting system in the municipalities of NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation), Varanasi, Hyderabad and Pune (together with Tata Projects).

In order to tap the growth potential in the power sector in India, Havells India has already enhanced its manufacturing capabilities from 5 lakh lamps to 25 lakh lamps per month so that it assists the government’s plans for increased efficiencies in the power sector. “We are now only focusing on the manufacturing of LED lights which have huge growth potential and currently contribute 75 per cent to our lighting division’s turnover,” informs Anil Bhasin, President Luminaries, Havells India Ltd.

IoT in Street Lighting

Today, digitisation has scaled up the functioning of lighting beyond illumination. Internet of Things (IoT) in lighting has enables the designer to produce fully integrated systems that can be connected seamlessly with a wireless network or ethernet. The user can remotely monitor and control lighting systems with this connected system with advanced controls and sensors. This has led to the emergence of smart street lighting, playing a significant role in the development of smart cities of the future. Upgradation of regular street light to connected smart street lights, which can be remotely accessed, controlled and managed, thus optimising operations offers benefits like reduction in energy consumption by 50 per cent, minimising maintenance costs, lowering CO2 emissions and curbing light pollution.

Recognising the key role of IoT in in the development of smart cities, Dwivedi says, “Under the National Street Lighting Programme, EESL is instrumental behind Central Control and Monitoring System (CCMS), which ensures that urban local bodies, municipalities and public-sector utilities have ease of maintenance in taking care of the LED street lights installed.”

He adds, “IoT in street lights ensures that street lights are automatically switched on once the sun sets and switched off after dawn. The system also sends alerts for each light that needs attention, to reduce failure and the need for sudden repair. Therefore, the avoided generational capacity can be ascertained from the reduced consumption of electricity. The system also helps note the exact consumption of energy, which is used to define the cost to be paid.”

Bhasin from Havells India informs, “By using a smartphone or a hand-held device, the users can adjust the lighting systems according to occupancy, ambient light, and daylight availability, rather than just flicking a conventional switch. Smart lights help in energy conservation and save on electricity bill since with motion sensors, the lights can automatically adjust or turn themselves on or off when needed.”

The LED manufacturers have developed IoT enabled LED lighting system. Signify India recently introduced its Interact City connected LED lighting system and management software that provides a robust infrastructure to improve city services, citizen safety, beautify public spaces, engage with citizens and encourage civic pride. Interact City is a secure, scalable IoT platform that collects insights from connected LED street lighting, embedded sensors and IoT devices over an IoT-ready connected lighting system. It can help reduce energy costs and increase efficiency so city administrators can reinvest savings in new smart city projects.

Here, Sumit Joshi explains some of the unique features of Interact City which will aid in improving street lighting performance:

  • Lighting asset management and energy optimisation: Interact City saves time and money by enabling managers to centrally commission and manage smart city lighting for the city, block, or even a single lighting point.
  • Scene management: City administrators can remotely adapt city lighting to the time of night, season or event, for example they can increase lighting in the area where there is an accident or crime or dim to 30 per cent in the middle of the night when nobody is around. They can also use smart dynamic lighting to turn parks and plazas into memorable, liveable spaces.
  • Environmental monitoring: Environmental monitoring uses sensors in the connected street lighting system to gain insights into problems in the city and support decisions on zoning, traffic flows and improving liveability in the city.
  • Incident detection: Incident detection uses sensors on light poles to continually monitor and alert emergency services when unexpected traffic, sounds or crowd noise is detected. Data is shared over the connected lighting system, so city administrators can respond more quickly and accurately.

Signify India has already installed 29 million connected light points worldwide and plans for its every new LED product to be connectable by 2020.

Chintan Shah, the founder and CEO of TVILIGHT, an intelligent lighting solution provider based in the Netherlands, believes that a street light pole is an ideal spot for mounting all sorts of IoT systems as public lighting represents one of the finest grids spread across the globe. It is a nervous system of a city that connects millions of street lights worldwide with access to 24x7x365 power. TVILIGHT offers solutions based on Open API that allows seamless interconnection and interoperability between smart street lighting and smart city IoT applications.

Stumbling Blocks

Though a number of cities have genuinely recognised the importance of upgraded public lighting infrastructure, they face multiple challenges like growing population, rapid urban expansion, increasing power tariffs, and a bewildering array of multiple technologies available in the market.

Outdated and inefficient public lighting infrastructure imposes hefty burden on municipal budgets. Moreover, old power supply distribution lines for street lights lead to rise in technical losses and require frequent maintenance.

The current procurement practices are primarily governed by the initial cost of equipment and do not consider the equipment’s operating costs and energy performance over time. A significant challenge in street lighting energy efficiency projects is the absence of a comprehensive Measurement and Verification (M&V) strategy. This leads to challenges for ESCOs trying to implement energy efficiency projects for municipalities. Other challenges concern policy and institutional support, as well as financial and technical challenges, informs Venkatesh Dwivedi from EESL.

Concerns about expected performance, reliability, and the rapidly changing nature of the technology also play a role in the decision-making process around LED conversion.

“Cost of LED lights is low because of which local manufacturers get low margins and the business faces intense competition from Chinese manufacturers as they are flooding the market with low quality and inferior products. SYSKA being a home grown brand we have the cutting edge and we give consumers LED lighting solutions at a more affordable price than other players in the market,” claims Rajesh Uttamchandani, Director, Syska Group.

The lighting industry stalwarts offer solutions to overcome the bottlenecks in the adoption of smart street lighting in India. EESL has set an example for the replacement of conventional street lights with LEDs by making joint ventures with Local Urban Bodies (LUBs) and municipal bodies in order to bring transition in the street lighting segment. EESL pays for the cost of LEDs replacement, thus requiring no upfront investment from municipal bodies and LUBs. So, EESL’s strategy proves to be helpful for overcoming the challenges.

For instance, the use of CCMS for remote operation and supervising has mitigated the lack of monitoring mechanism and warranties against technical defects.

“When compared to conventional lighting systems, LED street lights emulate daylight better due to better colour rendering index, making roads safer for drivers and pedestrians. The use of LED luminaires for the devices also adds an aesthetic touch. LEDs can be automated by using sensors since they have the capability of being controlled dynamically. In addition to offering many benefits, LED enhance the surroundings significantly,” informs Dwivedi of EESL.

Havells India’s Anil Bhasin suggests, innovative lighting solutions such as Power over Ethernet (POE) and smart street lighting LED solutions and indoor light automation are to bring new era of efficiencies and savings in lighting usage and consumption.

The next-generation technology smart street lighting LED solutions of Havells offer a CCMS, which enables remote-controlled and scheduled operations of the lights, energy analysis, fault monitoring etc.

In order to bring efficiency in the adoption of smart street lighting, Signify India works closely with municipal corporations in several cities to define various financing models for the LED upgradation of street lighting in the city. In addition to municipal funds, one unique financing model can be a public private partnership, wherein the LED lighting is self-financed through the energy savings generated by switching to LED lighting. These innovative models can enable municipal corporations to upgrade to LED lighting, without huge upfront capital expenditures.

Signify’s wireless street lighting management software Interact City provides complete visibility of the lighting assets of a city, enabling city administrators to remotely manage faults, optimise performance and monitor energy usage across the city. This real-time data can help administrators overcome any concerns about performance and reliability of their lighting assets, informs Sumit Joshi.


In order to reduce the carbon footprint, many countries across the globe are treading the path of energy efficient resources through upgradation of public lighting with smart street lighting. As a result, adoption of smart LEDs for street lighting is witnessing rapid growth. It is expected to reach 338.9 million by 2025. According to a new research report by Global Market Insights, the smart lighting market will exceed USD 24 billion by 2024.

The smart street lighting market is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 40.3 per cent during the forecast period 2016-2022. Europe is the biggest market for the smart street lighting followed by America. The countries which are leading in the smart street lighting market are Germany, the UK, and the US. The upcoming markets for the smart street lighting are India, China, and Poland due to the growing number of smart cities projects in these countries, says Venkatesh Dwivedi of EESL.

Sumit Joshi of Signify India foresees significant potential for growth in the street lighting industry, with more and more cities defining their smart city blueprints that include smart street lighting.

Anil Bhasin of Havells India expects to witness exponential growth in coming years due to the augmentation in infrastructure development such as roads, offices, real estate, and commercialisation, government’s flagship programs such as rural electrification, ‘Power for All’ and smart cities program. All these initiatives will create demand for a smart, connected and energy efficient lighting solutions thereby leading to the robust growth of street lighting industry.

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