The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) recently installed a stand-alone solar-powered street light, which could pave the way for reducing the annual cost of street lighting powered by electricity from the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL).
GEA engineers in collaboration with the Guyana Power and Light installed the first lamps at the corner of Thomas and Quamina streets in front of the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, the agency said in a recent statement.
The light consists of a 140W solar panel, 40W LED lamp, 105Ah battery, charge controller, timer, enclosure and mounts, it said. The unit costs $278,300 and it is estimated that these costs can be further reduced to about $200,000 based on optimisation of the design and lessons learned. The estimated simple payback for the light is about three years, according to the agency.
A study conducted by the agency revealed that there are about 14,000 street lights installed countrywide. The main types of lamps are the 250 watts high pressure sodium vapour (HPSV) lamps and 175 watts mercury vapour lamps, which together consume about 12 million kWh of energy annually at an estimated cost of $670M per year.
In keeping with its mandate to develop and encourage the development and utilisation of sources of energy, in addition to sources currently in use, and to conduct research into all sources of energy, the GEA explored the opportunities for using solar energy as an alternative to conventional street lighting powered by electricity from the public utility.
“Through the use of stand-alone solar powered street lighting and the use of light emitting diode (LED) lamps, it is possible to significantly reduce the cost that the current street lighting systems incur,” the agency said.
According to the GEA, solar-powered LED street lamps have a major advantage in that they are not affected by utility failure and operate at low voltages, which makes them cost effective and a safe option for workers. In addition, Guyana’s abundance of sunlight makes solar-powered street lighting an attractive alternative to street lighting powered by the public utility as they utilise photovoltaic (PV) technology, which harnesses the sun’s energy by converting it into electricity. The LED lamps also have an estimated lifetime that is five times longer than conventional HPSV lamps and energy savings of 80% or more.
The GEA said converting HPSV street lights to solar-powered LED lamps incurs a capital cost; however, this can be recouped from the monthly payments which otherwise would have been paid to the electric company over the lifetime of the lights. There are several other advantages associated with the use of this type of street lighting, it added, including that it utilises the sun’s energy, which is renewable and sustainable, thus making their use an envinmentally sound option.
Another major advantage, it said, is that LED lamps provide a truer colour representation, more depth of field, and greater peripheral vision which boosts safety for drivers and pedestrians.
Armed with the data gained from this first installation process, the agency will continue to monitor, research and record the performance of solar-powered street lighting. Further, the agency encourages all municipalities, NDCs and civic groups to observe this pilot lamp as street lighting falls within the mandate of the “owner” of the streets. The Ministry of Public Works and Communication is responsible for any lighting of the national main roads while local government organs are responsible for lighting on local roads and streets.