Monday, July 08, 2013

As PV installations double, everyone is urged to install LEDs

Simon Creed (left), head of technical resources at mac birmingham, with Paul Hutchens, managing director of Eco2Energy.
“It’s important for mac birmingham to be as sustainable as possible,” says Simon Creed (left), head of technical resources at mac birmingham, here seen with Paul Hutchens, managing director of Eco2Energy in the art gallery.
There was a huge increase in installations of feed-in tariff-linked solar PV systems in Britain during June 2013. 64.4MW of PV were installed over a four-week period from June 3 to June 30, according to figures supplied by DECC.

That is over double the 30.7 MW installed over the previous four-week period.

As prices have come down, the number of installations has increased throughout 2013, with 215MW installed in the first six months of the year.

Even so, there is no denying that the upfront investment is high. For those in charge of commercial and domestic environments, there is a wide choice of much easier ways to reduce a carbon footprint and see drastic reductions in energy bills.

According to Steven Ellwood, Managing Director of lighting provider BLT Direct, switching conventional lights for LEDs can provide a quicker, more reliable and higher return on investment than installing PV solar, since it is so easy and prices of these units are also tumbling.

They fell by 1% on the global market in the same month, June.

“Energy-saving lighting solutions are a much faster and more convenient way to give a home or business an eco-friendly twist," says Ellwood. "They are easy to install, they start making savings immediately, and there is not a huge initial outlay to add them to a home or commercial environment.”

The vast majority of the energy-saving LED lighting solutions that are on the market nowadays have bases which are compatible with existing fittings in many buildings.

Often it is just a case of simply replacing the old bulbs or strip lights. However, it is recommended that reputable installers and brands are used, since some products now available are of poor quality.

Even ‘feature lighting’, such as those commonly reserved for high energy-using halogens, are available in LED fittings, reducing energy usage by around four-fifths or 80%.

Although more expensive, LEDs can pay for themselves through the energy saved within six to nine months.

These bulbs also have much longer lifespans, meaning that once installed, they immediately begin to save money and contribute towards helping the environment for many years at any time of the day or night, says Ellwood.

Moreover, he adds that they also make a good companion to solar panels, since they reduce overall electricity requirements, meaning that the electricity from the panels will go further.

Birmingham's arts centre lights the way for sustainability

For instance, Birmingham’s popular arts centre, mac birmingham, is set make significant energy savings and reduce its light pollution, thanks to advanced LED lighting installed by energy efficiency specialist Eco2Energy.

The £7,000 investment is expected to save mac over £3,000 per annum on energy running costs and reduce CO2 usage by approximately 5,918kg each year.

Attracting over 850,000 visitors per year, centre is planning to make even more energy savings by replacing a further 250 lights.

“By making a relatively small investment, we’re able to further reduce our carbon footprint and save on energy costs,” commented Simon Creed, head of technical resources at mac birmingham. “It wins on every level and with payback on our investment expected in less than three years, we couldn’t be happier."
It is not the first investment in green technology at mac birmingham.

The complex kick started its ‘green initiative’ in 2012 with a 9.9-kilowatt solar PV system installed by Eco2Energy’s sister company Eco2Solar.

It now generates over 9,000 units of green energy per annum, equivalent to making 214,000 cups of tea.

“It’s important for mac birmingham to be as sustainable as possible; our aim is to be as energy efficient as we can and share this with our visitors by creating a ‘green zone’," said Simon Creed.

Midlands based Eco2Energy, part of Eco2 Solutions Group, was appointed as project installer to replace 100 track lights with high energy efficient LED lighting in the complex’s public galleries and main gallery.

Paul Hutchens, managing director of Eco2Energy said: “mac birmingham is a prime example of how businesses can invest in smart energy technologies and see immediate savings.”

“It’s excellent to see such a prominent complex in the regional arts community be so passionate about becoming totally energy efficient.”

Eco2Energy has developed its own ‘business friendly’ smart energy assessment designed to make energy efficiency simple for businesses.

Eco2Energy’s low carbon consultants work with businesses to review current energy usage, identify where savings can be made and make recommendations on the best efficiency measures to reduce carbon omissions and energy bills.

With a comprehensive range of smart energy technologies including LED and Low Energy Lighting, Voltage Optimisation and Building Energy Management. Other energy-saving solutions include Energy Efficient Cooling and Insulation.

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