The Light Pollution Awareness Group has noted with satisfaction Government’s proposed initiatives on intelligent street lighting within the 2014 budget proposals. This unique project will be launched in Gozo as well as in the existing 12km of roadways in Malta which form part of the European TEN-T (Trans-European Transport) Road Network. The road lighting in these areas had previously been installed with part-night dimming capabilities.
Of significant importance – given the 60,000 streetlights in Malta and Gozo – is the fact that intelligent road lighting will allow for dimming during the off-peak hours when traffic is low to nil. With modern intelligent lighting, sensors can be used to dim lighting depending on the presence of people or traffic. Road lighting can be remotely controlled, giving flexibility in switching times, dimming levels and specific seasonal settings. Excessive or redundant road lighting is obviously a waste of energy and a major cause of light pollution.
In previous years a similar exercise was planned and a tender was even issued by Enemalta but the idea was unfortunately never implemented. Dimming of 50 percent or more can achieve substantial benefits, especially in areas outside the development zones where the effects of light pollution have the worst impact.
Benefits to the community at large include:
– Great savings in terms of the yearly energy consumption (over 4GWh per year) and related financial costs
– Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions
– Reduction of light pollution and skyglow from roadways
– Increase in the operational lifetime of the light fittings
Whilst supporting this project, the Light Pollution Awareness Group strongly suggests that to maximise on the benefits Government should also implement the nation-wide adoption of full cutoff lighting to eliminate waste light above the horizontal.
This should include also all sports lighting as well as installations falling under the responsibility of local councils, who should pay for consumption out of their allocated funding. The scheme should also be extended to the off-peak dimming or switch off of lighting of monuments, fortifications and churches. Consideration should be given to the removal of excess lighting and replacement with retro-reflective markers (cats’ eyes) in all areas in the countryside. This will bring about more environmentally friendly transport as well as an improvement in the quality of life for road users.
—- IMAGE CAPTION: Full cutoff lighting – where all light is focused downwards, saves energy by avoiding wasted light into the night sky