German Lighting Projects Provide Interesting Template for Ireland’s Energy Efficiency Needs

Green Tech Download event
11.06.2012 | 06:49 PM
14.06.2012 - 06:49 PM
Frankfurt and Stuttgart regions

Over three days from 11th to 13th June, nine Irish organisations took part in a Study Tour to Germany in the area of Energy Efficient Lighting, organised by DEinternational Ireland. During this intensive 3-day programme, the group, consisting of city and county councils, lighting designers and lighting companies from Ireland, travelled from Frankfurt in Hessen southwards through Baden-Wuerttenburg visiting 15 best practice energy efficient lighting projects of eight German companies. The projects ranged from conventional and historic street lighting retrofits to commercial, industrial and architectural lighting examples. The group also visited manufacturing plants of some of the German companies to view examples of their lighting systems and controls, as well as remote control demonstrations.

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The Energy Efficient Lighting Study Tour presented a very practical way to examine how a country like Germany is utilising and benefiting from energy efficient lighting – in both public and private projects - and making significant energy savings. “It is obvious from this tour that the German lighting market is very developed and the companies and projects that we visited were chosen well to reflect this,” according to Peter English, MD of LEDvista Ltd. “We viewed some really impressive examples of lighting projects, for example a car park system created by Luxstream which achieved €13,000 in yearly electricity savings. We also saw a fascinating street lighting project by Braun Lighting Solutions in which historic gas lamps in the centre of Backnang had been replaced by highly efficient LEDs without affecting the historic lighting poles and casings. Another street lighting project by Selux created energy savings of up to 90% and cost savings of €520 yearly on each light point.”

For the city and county councils, the energy efficient street lighting projects were of most interest as Ireland will be looking at phasing out its low pressure sodium street lighting over the course of the next years. LEDs (light-emitting diodes) cropped up again and again in the projects that were visited as the most popular energy efficient alternative to conventional lighting. As an example, the Luxstream Innovation series, a direct system replacement for conventional fluorescent tube lighting, offers one of the most effective lights on the market with 105 lumen/Watt. Many of the projects showed that LEDs have the potential to save thousands of euros per year if deployed in appropriate ways. “I wasn’t aware that LEDs were being as widely used as they are in Germany, in particular in public lighting projects,” reveals Pat Caden, senior engineer in Dublin City Council. “This study tour has shown that there is currently a very fast growing market for LEDs, and if Germany is investing this heavily, Ireland should also be investigating how we can benefit.” Up to now, only a small number of LED street lighting projects have been deployed in Ireland. In addition to street lighting, there are many other types of public projects in Ireland that could serve to benefit from such energy savings - from swimming pools, libraries and car parks, to cycle ways and river walkways.

The use of LEDs was however not the only solution suggested by some of the German companies. Thomas Müller from WE-EF Leuchten GmbH & Co. KG was quick to point out that LEDs are not the only solution: “There has certainly been a significant increase in the efficacy of LEDs within a short period of time. For example since 1994 there has been an increase in the efficiency of LEDs of over 1000% based on their lumen per watt output which is quite astounding. However in fact due to their relatively recent growth, there are still many claims about LEDs that have yet to be corroborated. Comparative advantages of LEDs should be taken as general assumptions only and assessed realistically on a project-by-project basis. In some cases, it might even make more sense to look at employing modern energy efficient measures to existing lighting technology – e.g. metal halide, high pressure sodium - in order to save costs.”

Over the course of this 3-day study tour, eight German companies – BRAUN Lighting Solutions e.K., euroLighting GmbH, Hess AG, Luxstream GmbH, Sattler GmbH, Selux AG, Vossloh-Schwabe Deutschland GmbH and WE-EF Leuchten GmbH & Co. KG - took the opportunity to present their projects, technologies and solutions to the Irish delegation. These German companies also gained a lot of useful information about the Irish lighting market from the Irish group. “We know that financing in Ireland is tight, so being competitive is obviously a very important factor in being considered for projects. We can show how cost effective our systems are by providing information about the capital costs, as well as the savings, across the full lifetime of our lighting systems. It is very important that this is done, as sometimes the initial outlay can be more expensive than non energy-efficient alternatives, but the payback time can be relatively short – sometimes in the region of just one year!”

Some of the German companies – e.g. Braun Lighting Solutions e.K., Luxstream GmbH, eurolighting GmbH, Vossloh-Schwabe Deutschland GmbH and Sattler GmbH – are also open to partnership opportunities in Ireland, as they don’t have any representation on the island. Thomas Müller from WE-EF LEUCHTEN, whose company has a partnership with the company DesignLight in Dublin for many years says,“We think Ireland offers a lot of opportunities for our energy efficient lighting technology, and establishing partnerships with Irish companies is one of the most efficient ways of getting involved in the market.” The Irish companies Eiko Ireland Ltd. and LEDvista Ltd. are interested in exploring these types of opportunities, with Eiko also offering market opportunities in the UK.

“As a first step, we think the best opportunity to show in a practical way what type of savings would be possible with our technology in Ireland would be to have them included in pilot projects,” this, according to Daniel San Jocic of Luxstream GmbH, an innovative German manufacturer of high performance LED lighting technology which provides the advantage that their LED lighting systems will maintain the CE cert even when used in retrofit projects. “In this way, Irish organisations have the advantage of examining the performance and the savings, without taking a big initial financial risk.” Many of the city and county councils revealed that they tend to favour pilot projects as a first step, and recommended that the German companies register on the Irish public tender website in order to participate in any upcoming opportunities.

A recommendation from the Irish organisations was that, if possible, the German companies should provide financing options along with their offers. Holger Erdmann from DEinternational Ireland represents a German lighting contracting company, Cleopus, in Ireland and explains “By using Energy Performance Contracting, our clients don’t need to fund the investment themselves. The EPC package is financed solely by 90% of the energy savings during the contracting period, which is usually 10 years. After that, Cleopus customers still benefit from the energy efficient lighting as they keep the installed technology.” In addition, the German company Luxstream GmbH offers financing to reduce the initial upfront investment.

“The opportunity to directly interact with lighting experts and to personally examine the lighting projects made this a very worthwhile few days,” says Grainne Mowlds executive engineer of the Public Lighting section of South Dublin County Council. “I have gained a lot of knowledge and learned about energy efficient lighting solutions that can be applied in Ireland. Quite apart from the types of technologies deployed, we learned about practises commonplace in Germany –but less so in Ireland – which result in energy savings, for example reducing the intensity of the light especially at the early stage of the evening, installing street lighting sensors in non-busy areas which promotes a demand-based usage, switching lighting off at midnight in certain areas and using remote monitoring to reduce manual scouting. For example, Vossloh-Schwabe gave us a really good insight into simple and effective remote monitoring options which don’t even involve the requirement to download software - I’ve never seen anything like this before. Given their effectiveness, we should definitely consider adapting some of these practises in Ireland.”

As part of the Study tour, the Irish group also visited best practise examples of city centre retrofits involving lighting. In Nagold, they met with the town mayor and the head of the local Chamber of Pforzheim-Northern Blackforest, who presented how they have worked together with companies such as eurolighting GmbH, to integrate modern energy efficient lighting into their “virtual” concept for the town, which also includes a profusion of green spaces and pedestrian areas.  In addition, Hess AG together with the Blackforest LED-Network gave the group a tour of the award-winning LED city of Königsfeld (the whole inner-city is lit with LED). The tour continued to projects in the inner city of Villingen ending with a tour of the Hess headquarters in the city. “These were very inspiring projects and ones that towns in Ireland could certainly use as a template,” according to Declan Gaffney from Meath County Council.

The study tour also highlighted some important differences between Ireland and German lighting markets which should be taken into consideration when planning projects on the island. Lighting projects in Germany are mostly on a much greater scale than in Ireland which means that, in some cases, energy savings for Ireland may not be as stark as those experienced in Germany. A lot of mercury vapour lamps (which will be banned in the EU from 2015) and gas lamps are still in operation in Germany, neither of which are very common these days in Ireland, which means that when changing to energy efficient alternatives, these German projects tend to benefit from greater energy cost savings than would be the case in Ireland, as they’re starting from a less efficient base. In addition, another difference is that most street lighting in Ireland uses photo cell technology, whereas in Germany it is more commonly linked to the solar clock, so German companies would need to be able to take this difference into account when providing lighting solutions in Ireland.

Vincent Murray senior engineer in Limerick City Council explains another difference: “Some of the German projects we viewed used dimming as a way to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs. However a lot Ireland’s public lighting is still unmetered – we currently pay a dusk-to-dawn rate based on the wattage of the bulb on this. Changes have started and meters are now being installed on new lighting installations and on upgrades to existing systems. The installation of dimming technology on these systems would offer the possibility of significant energy and cost savings where it is appropriate to dim.”

Architectural lighting also featured in the Study Tour: on a visit to Heidelberg Mensa, Sattler GmbH showed off its impressive trumpet-shaped lighting installation using high powered LED technology and – among other things - eurolighting GmbH presented the illumination of a 23-meter high aqueduct in the town of Nagold. Monika Morkowska, a lighting designer working with Irish company Ventilux Ltd. was most interested in these type of projects.  According to her, “they showed that bespoke, aesthetic lighting installations – for example in concert halls and prominent public buildings - can also be done relatively cost-effectively using energy efficient technology.”

Overall the Study Tour was rated very highly by both German and Irish groups, with the Irish organisations benefitting from know-how transfer and relationship building with industry experts in Germany, and the German companies learning about opportunities for projects and partnership development in Ireland. Their intense few days together also meant that the group of Irish lighting experts benefitted from internal networking and exchange.


More Information 
This is a project funded in the framework of the Energy Efficiency Export Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. 

If you would like to receive more information, please contact Ronan Harbison, Commercial Director, DEinternational Ireland, Email:; tel: 00353-(0)1 6424312