The largest 314 cities in the US (those with over 100,000 residents) are converting to LED streetlights and interest in connected or smart street lights has nearly tripled, according to a report.
The Northeast Group also reports that the US is projected to invest $8.2bn in street light modernisation over the next decade.
Smart city building block
Smart street lighting is generally regarded as one of the fundamental building blocks of smart cities. And such initiatives are becoming more important than ever to help build resilience and achieve cost-savings for municipalities and utilities amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the third edition of the United States Smart Street Lighting & Smart Cities: Market Forecast (2020-2029), such investments are reaping important cost-savings as cities face budget shortfalls in the wake of Covid-19 related economic challenges.
“The smart street lighting market has rapidly advanced since our last survey back in 2018,” said Chris Testa, research director at Northeast Group. “The number of planned projects has more than doubled, prices have stabilised, and the benefits are better understood.”
Testa added that while the effects of Covid-19 will create some near-term uncertainty as municipal budget shortfalls could dampen the appetite for new projects, crises such as this highlight the importance of efficient, low-cost infrastructure that provides remote monitoring and control.
He continued: “There is also the possibility for infrastructure-focused stimulus to kickstart new projects, similar to the effect that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from the previous crisis had on LED street lighting a decade ago.”
Northeast Group has updated the largest survey of the US street lighting market, collecting data on street lighting in every city in the US with a population above 100,000 (314 total cities).
Some of the key findings include more cities buying back their street lights from utilities, increased movement towards smart city and 5G small cell street light attachments, and a more stable price and tariff environment.
A previous report and benchmarking survey also carried out by the Northeast Group and CityLab, commissioned by Itron and other smart technology providers, found that cities implementing smart street lights achieve energy savings of up to 80 per cent with the average at 66 per cent.
The US cities included in the benchmarking exercise had either completed or were in the latter stages of completing their LED and/or street light conversions. In most cases, operation and maintenance (O&M) savings alone were sufficient to justify the cost of projects, the report stated, especially in cities where the local utility does not pass along savings from reduced energy usage (either from dimming or LED luminaires).
Where’s the ROI?, a SmartCitiesWorld trend report, highlights the importance of smart lighting in the wider smart city context and put forward its potential to achieve a three-dimensional return-on-investment which could take on a new significance in the current operating climate.
In the report, Itai Dadon, global head of smart cities at Itron, noted that intelligent street lighting is proven to deliver social, economic and environmental benefits because the brighter, more efficient LEDs decrease energy cost, reduce carbon dioxide pollution, and improve safety on the roadways. “So it is a perfect example of how cities are delivering this three-dimensional return on investment,” he added.
According to Northeast’s most recent study’s market share data, current leaders in the US market are Itron, SELC (Xylem), Telensa, Cimcon, Acuity Brands, Signify, ST Engineering, and GE Current. Other leading smart streetlight vendors include Sensus (Xylem), Cisco, DimOnOff, Honeywell, Landis+Gyr, Livable Cities, Trilliant, Ubicquia, and Verizon, among others.