Smart lighting is starting point for integrated public space policy

“Municipalities not yet on schedule”

Although there has been attention for many years for the possibility of making street lighting smart and making it more energy efficient, we were still shocked by the figures in the Webinar on Smart Lighting organized by Luminext. We spoke to Robert Tissing and Leffert de Weerd of Luminext about what could be the reason for the fact that the targets from the Energy Agreement for public lighting – let’s say it cautiously – are not “on schedule”.

By Wendy Daanen
Smart City Plaza


A bright point of view

In “Vision”, employees, customers and partners talk about their view on smart lighting.

First some numbers to clarify what we are talking about. In the 2013 Energy Agreement, a number of targets have been set for saving energy in The Netherlands. For public lighting, it has been specifically established that 20% energy would be saved in 2020 compared to 2013. In 2030, the energy saving should be 50%, whereby it has also been established that 40% of the area must be provided with smart energy management. Which means; switching differently than standard night switching by the network operator or controlling the light level by means of dimming.

What has been achieved of these objectives so far?

The Rijkswaterstaat climate monitor in 2018, in which 157 municipalities participated, shows that only 37 municipalities have achieved the goal of saving 20% ​​energy and that 45 municipalities have achieved the goal of 40% street lighting with smart energy management. This means that only 8% of public lighting is equipped with smart technology and that only 30% of the total street lighting area consists of LED lighting.

The energy saving potential

Now we turn it around; 70% of public lighting is therefore not yet equipped with LED. Since there are 3.5 million lampposts in the Netherlands, there are about 2.45 million lampposts that, with an average consumption of 55 Watt – consume a total of 566 million kWh. Luminext calculates that if you were to provide these lampposts with LED lighting and a structural dimming profile or turn the lights off at certain times, energy savings of no less than 368 million kwH would be possible. That is really a serious amount of energy and even enough to provide 123,000 households with energy. Or to drive 2.4 billion kilometers with your electric car. In addition, it also saves 175 million kilos of CO2 emissions.

This raises the question why the LED transition and the wide use of smart public lighting is taking so long. We ask director Robert Tissing and business analyst Leffert de Weerd of Luminext.

'In the Netherlands 368 million kWh of energy can be saved. That is equivalent to the consumption of 123,000 households'

Leffert de Weerd, data analist Luminext

Beyond the payback period

On the one hand, Tissing gets it; with his background in finance, he recognizes the investment issue. “For a LED luminaire and a smart connector kit, you have invested about  € 600 per lamppost, apart from the operational costs. We often get the question what the payback time is for making public lighting more sustainable and making it more sustainable. The economic payback period based on energy savings alone is about eight or nine years, which is often considered too long. As soon as the payback period takes more than 3 years, it is more difficult to get a budget”.

Cost savings and process improvement

Undeservedly, according to Tissing, because in addition to direct energy savings and cost savings in the long term, you also enjoy the benefits that are less easy to express in money, but are just as important. “With smart lighting malfunctions are solved much sooner”, De Weerd explains. Where a lamppost used to be off for a week until a resident or street lighting inspector would report it, a lamppost with smart lighting technology reports itself immediately as soon as there is a defect. Indirectly, this automatic fault detection results in cost savings and process improvement as nightly inspection rounds are no longer required and the customer contact center has less workload. As a result, the uptime of the lighting – and thus safety – is optimal”.

'It is a mental leap to get data in a functional way'

Robert Tissing, directeur Luminext

Benefits for other policy areas

Smart lighting therefore has a positive effect on road safety. This may bring us to the second cause for the low percentage of smart lighting; the unfamiliarity with other policy areas. The public lighting manager is primarily responsible for the functional electrotechnical aspects of the lighting, whereby energy savings or road safety are not always included as KPI.

Luminext, however, takes the position that smart lighting should be part of the integrated policy in the public area, because other policy areas can indeed benefit from it. For example, the safety and enforcement department benefits from the fact that the street lighting in the city center can be switched up immediately in case of calamities and the traffic department could be supported by linking the public lighting to the traffic intensity on main roads or on a bicycle path in the countryside. The environment department also benefits from animal-friendly lighting. Apart from these applications, smart lighting provides insight into the lighting area, energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Large-scale approach

Tissing indicates that it takes a mental leap to obtain data in a more functional way, arguing for large-scale smart lighting. Still many municipalities have only transformed a small part of the lighting area into smart, while it only works well if you ‘smarten’ the entire area and actively deal with it. That is exactly the mission of the company; supporting municipalities to provide smart lighting on a large scale in order to be able to manage and control the street lighting city-wide and in multiple policy areas. When asked how they do this, De Weerd replies: “Among other things, with the in-house developed Luminizer platform, which is one of the few supplier-independent lighting management software platforms. All smart lighting, from any supplier, can be linked to gain insight into your total area. We simply want to help our customers to use street lighting in a smarter way. Together we make a plan, check out what needs to be done first. One city prefers to start doing the main roads and the other in the center, depending on the priorities. We then report the results quarterly and show what else is possible. We also have a support department where you can go with questions and we organize customer contact days to learn together how to use smart lighting ”.


The gentlemen note that the route to a completely smart light area will not happen overnight, it is too comprehensive for that. But if they can give one advice to municipalities that do not yet have municipal-wide smart lighting? “Make a plan and map out the route to integral use of smart lighting now. And if you don’t know where to start, we are happy to help ”.

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