Technology helps local authorities to see the light – not the costs
22 August 2013
Author: Dr Ger Devlin, UCD School of Biosystems Engineering and chief technology officer, Belfield Technologies Ltd
Local authorities could be on track to save up to €14 million per year and reduce the country’s total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions if they deploy a pioneering new light-saver technology that has been developed by Irish start-up Belfield Technologies, a spin-out from University College Dublin (UCD).
Belfield Technologies, a new energy-management venture, has been co-founded by chief technology officer Dr Ger Devlin, chief executive Dr Kevin McDonnell and chief financial officer David Megan. The company evolved from research undertaken in the UCD School of Biosystems Engineering.
The green tech market has grown consistently over the last number of years and this growth is likely to continue into the future. The importance of energy conservation is becoming more important as we, as a global society, continue to consume our limited sources of carbon fuels.
Nuclear energy is still viewed as an unlikely and unpopular alternative to carbon fuels, and alternative renewable energy sources are still fully unable to service our total energy demands. As a result we are, until such time as the technology exists and renewable energy production becomes more efficient, still dependent on diminishing resources of fossil fuels.
This is highlighted by the European Environment Agency. “The type and magnitude of energy-related pressures on the environment (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, etc) depends both on the sources of energy as well as on the total amount of energy consumed,” said the Agency. “One way of reducing energy-related pressures on the environment is to use less energy.”
While there is the potential for large growth rates and profits, we must also uphold our social responsibility by playing our role in securing the future of the environment.
REDUCE ENERGY COSTS
There is an increasing global demand by industry, municipal authorities, government agencies, commercial premises and sports facilities, to reduce the increasing cost of light-energy consumption and to reduce their associated carbon footprints.
To solve this problem, Belfield Technologies has developed a High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting control system, the HID LightSaver, which does not require changes to existing light fittings and which can be easily retrofitted into existing lighting systems.
The system is built around a patent pending, magnetic transformer and is controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC). This means that the customer is able to control the lighting levels. It also eliminates harmonics and maintains the proper power factor. The HID LightSaver has the ability to control a range of different lighting applications including mercury vapour, metal halide and both high- and low-pressure sodium.
As well as giving the customer a significant reduction in their energy usage and running costs, it also prolongs the life of the lamps being used and, importantly, reduces the levels of greenhouse gasses being emitted into the atmosphere. Compatible with building management systems, the HID LightSaver utilises an innovative ‘intelligent’ voltage usage system, which limits voltage fluctuations to maintain lamp efficacy and colour characteristics.
This system enables Belfield Technologies’ clients to significantly reduce their lighting operational and maintenance costs by prolonging the life of the lamps being used and it also reduces the levels of greenhouse gasses being emitted into the atmosphere.
The technology came to prominence when Belfield Technologies won an EnviroCom award in 2011 for environmental innovation, as well as winning the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland Innovation Award at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s Energy Show in that same year.
Belfield Technologies estimates that there are 400,000+ street lights in Ireland alone consuming a total of 260 GWh of electricity. It estimates that cost savings of €14 million annually could be realised in Ireland by use of its new technology. Savings as much as 35% can be realised depending on the lighting application. The HID LightSaver is approved under the Accelerated Capital Allowance scheme with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, which allows 100% of the capital cost to be reclaimed against taxable profit.
TRIALS WITH COUNTY COUNCILS
From trials carried out with Irish county councils, Belfield Technologies believes that wide-scale adoption of this technology can lead to potential savings of €2.1 billion across Europe in annual running costs for street lighting.
The technology is already operating and delivering energy savings and CO2 emission reductions in locations in the Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown (DLR) area of County Dublin and the company is working with DLR and other local authorities to roll out the new technology. Current power savings recorded from the real-time 3G data logger over the past 12 months on the 10 Kva unit are 9837 kWh, which equates to a total reduction in CO2 emissions of 5262 kgs per annum.
Other installations such as UCD’s Merville soccer pitch showed an impressive 60% saving on power consumption and 4887 kgs of CO2 using SONs, while 24% savings were achieved with metal halides with a 50 Kva installation on an astro soccer pitch with 9080 kgs of CO2 savings.
These data results work well with the concept of energy performance contracts (EPC), where potential clients know that incorporating this technology will reduce energy costs and subsequently pay for itself with these savings.
More importantly, perhaps, is that Belfield Technologies has secured a foothold overseas where the New Zealand Transport Authority is now set to pilot the HID LightSaver technology. The pilot will run for two months and has the potential deliver a 35% energy saving for the authority – similar to the Irish scenario. Following the pilot, Belfield Technologies hopes to roll out the technology across New Zealand.
On top of this, we have also recently signed a licence agreement with our partner in China and this will see an increase in manufacturing efficiency with a corresponding decrease in manufacturing costs, which will ultimately help improve the bottom line.
Dr Ger Devlin BSc, PhD, MIEI obtained his primary degree in BSc applied physics from Dublin City University in 2001. During his degree, he worked as a fabrication engineer with Analog Devices BV. In 2007, he received his PhD from UCD’s School of Biosystems Engineering. He is employed in UCD and is Ireland’s representative on COST Action FP0902 – ‘Development and harmonisation of new operational research and assessment procedures for sustainable forest biomass supply’.
For this action, he was also appointed short-term scientific mission manager, which oversees the awarding of grants for researchers to conduct short study missions in Europe, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Australia and South Africa. Dr Devlin is Ireland’s representative on the International Energy Association Task 43 – ‘Bioenergy from biomass feedstocks’. He has in excess of 40 publications and is CTO of Belfield Technologies Ltd.