Street lighting across the UK is estimated to account for over a million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, which is enough to fill the Wales Millennium Stadium in Cardiff 35 times with the roof closed. The majority of the street lighting facilities are outdated, inefficient and extremely costly. Energy prices have risen 20% since 2009 and recently published National Grid forecasts suggest the price of electricity could double over the next two decades.
With this is mind energy efficient street lighting is a smart investment option for local authorities, but many struggle to find the finance upfront to invest in these high-quality, modern lighting solutions.
The lack of up-front capital and minimal funding can often act as a barrier to many otherwise willing authorities. However, an increasingly popular Government-backed support programme is now helping to plug that gap for public bodies by making finance available for energy efficiency improvements, which can be cost-neutral in the short term and make significant carbon and financial savings in the medium to long-term.
Interest-free funding from the organisation Salix Finance provides the ready capital needed for local authorities to implement energy efficient lighting upgrades across cities. Salix is funded by the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Department for Energy and Climate Change to support energy efficiency projects, such as street lighting upgrades, to cut carbon emissions and reduce energy bills.
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council is a recent example of a local authority that has identified the opportunity to lower its energy bills by updating a number of its street lighting technologies across the county. Similar to many other local authorities, it lacked the initial capital required to implement these technologies.
The council approached Salix Finance who were able to provide an interest-free loan to help revamp the street lighting across this industrial area of the South Wales Valleys.
The project was completed in four separate phases at four different locations of the county taking place across the course of a year. The projects required a loan of just over £2m to replace the outdated, SON-T lighting to a modern, LED replacement.
The upgrades to the council’s street lighting will see the county cut its annual energy costs by a projected £370,000, amounting to savings of more than £7.4m over the lifetime of the project. In addition to this the scheme will save more than 1400 tonnes of CO2 each year, amounting to 28,000 tonnes over the project’s lifetime.
The loan will be paid back over five and a half years funded from the savings to the council’s annual energy bills which means the project is of no extra expense to the Welsh local authority and effectively pays for itself.
Chris Ridout, Street Lighting Engineer for Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, said: “After attending a Salix Finance seminar in Cardiff around three years ago, we were instantly interested in working with the company to reduce our carbon emissions and running costs for our street lighting. Since the LED installation has taken place we are currently saving around 75%, which is higher than we ever expected.”
Tim Morozgalski, Programme Manager for Wales and NHS England at Salix said: “Merthyr Tydfil is an excellent example of installing street lighting in phases across the County. Since 2014, they are expected to have rolled out £2m of LED street lighting in two years. By splitting this large-scale project into phases, it has allowed the Council to start achieving carbon and financial savings road-by-road. LED street lighting in proving popular amongst local authorities in the United Kingdom and we will be holding street lighting workshops in Wales to help support other Councils that are interested in getting interest-free loans to install new LED lighting and controls upgrades.”
With a wide range of technologies available, building managers from across the public sector are faced with the difficult task in driving forwards with a low carbon behaviour change, but options such as a Salix loan, make the task a smooth process.
To date, Salix has financed over £85m worth of loans to complete street lighting projects across the UK, resulting in over £315m in lifetime savings. In addition to this, its work has saved over 1.3m tonnes of lifetime carbon savings.
The establishment of the Salix investment, which is available to all local authorities across England and Wales, makes energy improvements in the public sector available. Furthermore, repayment instalments for the loan are usually covered by the sum saved through the immediate and often dramatic reductions in regular fuel bills.
To find out how your public sector organisation can apply for interest-free funding, please visit the website direct.