Europe needs to get tough to meet emission reduction targets

Signify calls for tough action from EU states to meet emission reduction targets by making the switch to smart LED lighting

By Neil Pattie

Neil Pattie is Head of Corporate Content at Signify

03 Nov 2021

The company says that the environmental and economic benefits of making the switch to smart  Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) lighting is a 'no-brainer' for EU member states.

It is advocating measures to be taken for a massive switch to energy efficient LED lighting, and key to this transition, is more than doubling the annual pace of building renovation to 3 per cent per year.

Signify is calling for both commercial and residential properties, to be renovated by the retrofitting of older lighting systems with more efficient LED installations by 2030.

“We have spent way too long making the transition to these technologies, and while we have seen positive developments, faster change is needed,” said Harry Verhaar, Signify’s Head of Global Public & Government Affairs.

“Making the switch now is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to help the EU to deliver on its commitment to reduce emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050,” said Verhaar.

“According to findings from Signify, upgrading professional lighting across the EU, which includes the lighting in offices, industrial complexes, roads and parks, shops and hotels, would reduce CO2 emissions by 42 million tonnes.”

The renewed call to action comes after the launch of a landmark 224-page report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), titled ‘Net-zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’.

It seeks to explain what is needed to decouple carbon emissions from the global economy.

In the report’s foreword by IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, it describes the proposed necessary action as “a total transformation of the energy systems that underpins our economies.”

The following chapters go on to comprehensively cover all aspects of energy and climate policy, from phasing out fossil fuels to decarbonising economies.

The report considers the future of lighting within its net zero emissions scenario, recommending that sales of LED bulbs “should reach 100 per cent by 2025 in all regions” of the world, and that minimum energy performance standards should be complemented by the smart control of appliances.

“When you connect lighting to other devices you unlock benefits beyond illumination”

Connecting lighting to a network, and introducing sensors and controls, further enhances the efficiency of individual luminaries, above and beyond them being replaced by non-connected LED technology.

One way this may be achieved, is through Interact Industry, a software designed by Signify to increase lighting control and connectivity in large-scale industrial facilities.

The system was recently installed in a warehouse used by Pilkington Automotive in Germany, and since then the company has seen a variety of benefits.

“Compared to sites where conventional lighting is used, the new system achieves up to 50 per cent energy savings, by adapting the lighting to demand, and using daylight harvesting and presence sensors,” said Marcel Devereaux, Energy Projects Manager at parent company NSG.

“This is on top of the significant savings already achieved by changing to LED lighting. Also, the carbon footprint at Pilkington Automotive can be reduced by 290 tonnes of CO2 each year,” he added.

According to findings from Signify, upgrading professional lighting across the EU, which includes the lighting in offices, industrial complexes, roads and parks, shops and hotels, would reduce CO2 emissions by 42 million tonnes. An additional 8.9 million tonnes CO2 reduction, could be achieved from converting homes to LED.

Such a combined reduction across the EU is equivalent to the amount of CO2 that 2.3 billion trees - a forest larger than the United Kingdom - would capture in a year.

However, a switch to smart LED-based systems brings additional benefits that go beyond electrical savings and emission reduction.

“When you connect lighting to other devices you unlock benefits beyond illumination – from sensors in a luminaire that can tell a room booking system when a room is free, to light levels in an office that workers can adjust via their smart phone,” said Verhaar. “And in the home, lights that can sync with your TV, music or games console and talk to your doorbell and smoke alarms.”

This prominence of lighting in the Internet of Things ticks another of the EU Green Deal’s boxes.

One of the initiative’s central aims is to stimulate Europe’s digital capabilities so that it can compete with the digital powerhouses of the US and China.

 Achieving the goal of net-zero by 2050 will be a herculean task for the 27 EU member states.

“Instrumental to achieving this goal is to more than double the pace of building renovation to 3 per cent per annum,” says Verhaar, “which needs to be combined with a 3 per cent increase in energy efficiency and 3 per cent rise in the use of renewables each year.”

The European Council has established a 3 per cent renovation rate target for 2030. Verhaar urges it to turn this commitment into action and to do it quickly.

“We need a wave of renovations for building and city infrastructure. This would generate around 1 million jobs, save €40 billion in electricity costs, and boost Europe’s digital future,” says Verhaar.

Switching to LED lighting is the quickest and easiest part of a building renovation.

With stimulus programs in place and the Green Deal in full swing, the question for policy makers should not be can we afford to do it, but can we afford not to?

Find out more on Signify Green Switch here:

This article reflects the views of the author and not the views of The Parliament Magazine or of the Dods Group