Facts and statistics about the environmental impact of public lighting
Public lighting and building lighting require huge amounts of energy. According to the ADEME, they represent a worldwide consumption of 2700 TWh by year, for a CO2 emission of 150 million tonnes. Generally speaking, lighting is responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
At the same time, this sector offers a strong potential for reducing its environmental impact. Many traditional public lighting installations are outdated, more than half of them over-consuming energy due to their obsolescence. By improving street lights specifications, significant energy savings can be achieved, a substantial asset knowing that public lighting represents 41% of the local authorities electricity consumption.
Solar lighting, a technology in line with the objectives of sustainable development
If we can all agree on the fact that solar energy is clean because it is both natural and renewable, the production and recycling of solar solution raises questions. Any industrially manufactured product has an environmental impact, and one could fear that solar panels, street lights LED modules and batteries, would require more energy to be manufactured than they can produce.
We now know for sure that solar solutions are eco-responsible from end to end. Their production only requires very low rates of rare earth elements, unlike technologies such as Smartphones. Their components have a high degree of recyclability, thereby limiting the raw material needs. Photovoltaic panels are for instance recyclable up to 95 to 99% by most manufacturers.
Figures also show progress to always limit a little more the impact of solar solutions production on the environment. According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, solar panels now pay off their energy debt in about a year, which took 5 years in 1992.