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Taiwan Business

Reducing pollution through street lighting

The island has become one of the first places in the world to replace all its old mercury vapour street lights with modern LED ones, thereby reducing pollution and saving electricity

As the sun sets and the light fades, street lights the world over flicker on to light up the dark. In many countries these street lights use mercury vapour, which is highly toxic. But on the streets of cities on the island, this illuminated night-time scene is made entirely of LED street lighting.

Street lights, the ubiquitous elements of the urban environment, have commonly been using vaporised mercury to produce light. However, this method is not very energy efficient and can cause pollution; when damaged, the lights contaminate the environment by releasing a toxic gas.

Therefore the global trend is to replace mercury street lights with LED ones, which not only improve the life of bulbs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by using less electricity, but they also make it safer for road users and pedestrians, as they have superior luminosity.

Leaders in LED street lighting

Launching its “Mercury Street Sunset Plan” in 2015, the island has been among the first in the world to replace all of its mercury vapour street lights with LED ones.

The high-tech island has 1.27 million LED street lights in use. As a result, power consumption is estimated to have decreased by 0.9 billion kilowatt-hours each year, with the reduction of 470,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

What is more, the power saving rate has been increased to 70 per cent, and hundreds of millions of US dollars have been saved in electricity costs and maintenance fees.

The island’s LED street lighting industry also has the advantage of being built with domestic technology that can provide multi-functional and customised products and services.

Furthermore, the island’s supply chain of LED street lighting is complete, resulting in lower costs and a faster production cycle, which makes the price-performance ratio very high.

1.27 million LED street lights in use

20,000 Taiwanese smart LED street lamps have been installed in several counties as field-test models.

Going smart

But for this high-tech island, going green is not enough; LED street lighting is going smart as well. Smart lamps can provide lighting and collect data at the same time. Based on a smart monitoring system that is capable of controlling lighting and measuring flows of people, smart lamps can even monitor temperature, humidity and air quality, all of which are valuable to data analysis and research.

The smart street light system is supported by domestically developed technology. Using a wireless sensor network, the system can automatically adjust light intensity according to changes in daylight and traffic volume.

Furthermore, the smart design is capable of providing real-time data about its functional status so that timely repair can be carried out whenever malfunction occurs.

Cities are going smart with highly efficient street light, advanced monitoring and remote control systems. The integrated “LED plus” can provide even more functions; for example, lighting poles can be used to host an array of sensors, monitors and cameras that will then link up with wifi to provide PM2.5 (particulate matter), smoke, parking violation, theft and trespassing detection, litter monitoring, licence plate recognition, water level monitoring and facial recognition. The resulting advantages are integrated energy savings, environmental quality control, local tourism promotion, traffic guidance and disaster prevention.

So far 20,000 smart LED street lamps have been installed in several counties across the island as field-test models. The island intends to develop an international benchmark for such lights.

Going global

With the growing awareness of sustainable development, there is now a global trend to adopt environmentally friendly applications.

Due to the eco-friendliness, high capacity, high efficiency, and standardised power supply specifications and colour temperature of these lights, the island’s LED street lighting is very competitive and advantageous globally.

The lights have also been exported to more than 20 countries, with North America accounting for 30 per cent of the market share. The island plays host to many prestigious international LED lighting companies such as Leotek, Delta Electronics, Mean Well and Everlight. In 2017 Leotek won an open bid for supplying over 100,000 LED street lamps in Jordan.

As these LED street lights and electric power supplies gain increasing recognition, it is expected that the island’s LED lighting will help to solve energy efficiency problems faced by many of the economies where the EBRD invests.


Find out more

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or Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) at