South Africa is set for a boom in the use of LED lighting following the announcement of Africa’s largest energy-saving lighting deal – a joint initiative between local power utility Eskom and global electronics giant Philips.
Speaking at the launch event in Johannesburg, Philips executive VP Ronald de Jong said that it was the company’s policy to focus on new trends in society, especially in terms of coping with population growth and promoting good health.
“We started off, 120 years ago, as a lightning company,” said De Jong, “and today lighting is still an important part of our business. We want to make a significant contribution to saving energy needed for lighting.”
De Jong announced that Philips, with the help of Eskom, would be distributing 200 000 lamps from its MasterLED range to commercial consumers such as banks, casinos, hotels and retail outlets, at a discounted price.
The announced deal coincided with the COP17 climate change conference, currently underway in Durban. Eskom was involved in preparations for the conference, notably in the upgrading of street lights around the venue from halogen to LED.
Brighter, cleaner burning
“Each lamp uses 40W to 43W less power, so for companies with a lot of lighting, the cost reduction can be substantial,” said De Jong. “The 200 000 lamps could potentially save as much as R41-million (US$5.1-million) per year, and prevent the emission of up to 50 000 tons of carbon dioxide.”
He added that individually, each lamp could cut R200 ($25) per year from electricity bills straight away. An extra bonus is that the brighter, cleaner atmosphere leads to a better work environment.
The roll-out will be overseen by engineering consultancy and distribution specialists Karebo Systems, located in Woodmead, north of Johannesburg.
Karebo director Ravi Govender said that his company has worked with Eskom on previous roll-outs, such as the successful compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) programme. Now, with LED lighting on the rise, Karebo will be contributing not only to a greener South Africa, but also to job creation.
“There are many possibilities in training people to retrofit premises for the LED downlighters,” he said.
LEDs are the future
Andrew Etzinger, Eskom’s senior GM for integrated demand management, said: “In South Africa 10% of the energy we produce is used for lighting. With our electricity supply often under strain, we want to encourage all electricity consumers to reduce their usage where possible.”
Etzinger said that the parastatal’s CFL programme, which encouraged consumers to replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, and to date has distributed 47-million of the energy-saving devices, has been a success.
“We’ve helped commercial and residential properties lower their electricity bills, and when we’ve returned, even years later, we’ve found that many people haven’t gone back to the old, cheaper light bulbs but are still using the CFLs.”
Although Eskom is building new power stations, Etzinger said that those are long-term solutions and that people can begin to save electricity immediately if they switch to more efficient technology. In so doing they’ll reduce their impact on the environment, and help ease the burden on the national grid.
He added that although the latest initiative is aimed at the commercial sector because of its extensive lighting use and potential for greater savings, residential properties will be included in future.
Street lighting is an Eskom priority, he said, and for COP17, Eskom worked with Philips, the Durban municipality and the national Department of Environmental Affairs to replace the lighting in six streets around the International Convention Centre with LEDs, using Philips’ Iridium2 street lighting technology.
A total of 149 street lights were upgraded to the cleaner lamps, which are each capable of burning for 60 000 hours. They also cost less to maintain and burn brighter, enhancing the safety and security of people in the street.
The new technology will save the municipality 47.4 megawatt-hours per year.