Sounak Mitra in New Delhi
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) undertook a pilot project in 2010 by replacing 276 street lights with LEDs. It saved 54 kw energy and Rs 11 lakh in electricity bills. Now, KMC is considering replacing all 180,000 streetlights, which could save 35,000 kw and Rs 75 crore annually. The project is expected to be undertaken over the next 12 years.
Similarly, the Bhatinda government installed 5,500 LED pieces for street lighting that was executed by Philips Electronics India. With an average saving of Rs 1,500 for each luminaire per year, the Bhatinda government could save Rs 80 crore per annum.
India's LED street lighting, estimated to be about $55 million (Rs 290.41 crore) in 2011, is projected to grow at more than 47 per cent annually, according to a study by Frost & Sullivan. The LED lighting market is expected to grow to $478.62 million (Rs 2527.25 crore) by 2015.
Lured by the huge untapped opportunity, lighting companies such as Dutch major Philips Electronics, US-based Bridgelux, GE, home-grown NTL Electronics, are trying to woo the state governments and municipalities to convert conventional street lighting to LEDs.
However, it may not be easy to convince the governments as cost of implementation is much higher than the conventional lighting, as luminaries are expensive, with a price range of Rs 3,750 to Rs 50,000 each.
Companies, thus, are banking on energy savings and environment concerns, including minimum emission of carbon dioxide and no radiated heat to bag the government projects.
As William D Watkins, chief executive officer of Bridgelux told Business Standard, by replacing the entire street lighting to LEDs, India could establish three sizeable power plants that could produce the entire electricity requirement of 16,000 villages. However, companies like Bridgelux pegs India's total street lighting at Rs 4,000 crore. "Of this, we target about 10 per cent of the pie," said Watkins. Bridgelux has already completed street lighting projects in the US.
The ownership structure of India's street lighting is very complex, and there are many stakeholders in each city. "It would take time to negotiate with multiple partners," said Watkins. However, the company is expecting to execute its first project in one of the south Indian states within the next three months, he said.
Philips Electronics has already done a few projects with KMC, Pune Municipal Corporation, Bhatinda Development Authority, Amritsar Municipal Corporation, Pune-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, Haldia Development Authority. "We are negotiating a few more projects with the existing clients and government agencies and municipalities," said Indranil Goswami, head (lighting application services), Philips Lighting India, that claims 30 per cent market share in India's lighting space.
According to Bridgelux, replacing a typical 250 watt streetlight with LED can save more than 50 per cent of the energy consumer consumed by the conventional lightings like GSL. While a 5-watt LED can replace an 18 watt CFL.
NTL Electronics, too, is in talks with government agencies for similar project, said Arun Gupta, global CEO, NTL Lemnis.
The payback time for a LED is pegged at three years, while it comes with a five-year warranty and the maintenance cost is very low as no maintenance is required during the first five-six years. However, companies need to localise products to cope with the Indian climate, said Watkins.
Bridgelux plans to invest $50 million (Rs 264.01 crore) over the next two years, and hopes to break-even within the next two years. "We are looking for technology, marketing and distribution partners. But, nothing has been finalised. These could be joint ventures or strategic arrangements," he said.
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