n IMIESA - Solar a viable alternative for street lighting? : public lighting

Volume 41, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 0257-1978



Twenty years ago, the price of solar lighting was too high to make it a viable option for public lighting. But now, with decreasing prices, new technology, and the rising cost of electricity, the use of solar lighting for illuminating streets and public spaces is a more realistic option. But the question remains as to whether it is the best option. South Africa is decades behind some developed countries in terms of energy production and consumption, says Sibusiso Skosana, marketing manager, BEKA Schréder, a leading lighting manufacturer. In fact, the whole of Africa consumes less than 8% of the world's energy - the equivalent of some countries, like Argentina. "It will take 30 or 40 years for us to get to a point where we have enough power compared to our counterparts like China and Europe. But we have plenty of sun, and that makes solar energy attractive, not only for street lights but also for lighting in general," says Skosana. However, the upfront costs of solar lights are much higher than that of conventional lights, with a payback time of roughly 30 years. While the subsidies on renewable energy offered by government do make it feasible in some instances, this is generally limited to specific applications.

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