In a recent article in the Business Times, it has been stated that the Treasury spends more than Rs.10 billion annually on street lighting in Sri Lanka.
This huge amount of recurring expenditure can be drastically reduced by introducing patented standalone Hybrid street lamp posts made in China to replace the existing conventional lamp posts.
The Hybrid street Lamp post consists of a small wind turbine at the top and a solar panel to generate and deliver the required electricity supply to light the LED lamp on the post through a battery securely stored within the post along with a control panel. The wattage of the LED bulb fitted to this lamp can be ordered as per the requirement. These hybrid lamp posts are made in different sizes and heights to suit different needs such as lighting Expressways, rural roads, remote army camps or rural homes etc.
The Hybrid street lamps need not be connected to the electrical supply wires of the CEB and therefore can be installed and used in remote rural areas where CEB supply is unavailable. With minor modification the electrical supply from this lamp post can be utilized to electrify a small house.
Isolating these street lights from the CEB supply means that there are no monthly bills to pay, nor do they require any maintenance. There are no overhead and underground wires, transformers and other distribution equipment and switch gear to be maintained by CEB staff. After five years the battery may have to be replaced at a small cost.
These batteries carry a 5-year warranty and the energy efficient LED bulbs are guaranteed for 10 years. The initial capital cost can be further reduced by importing the components and fixing them to the existing lamp posts or making the posts locally.
These lights will function independently without the grid connection as long as sun or wind is available. In Sri Lanka we are blessed with the ideal weather for this technology. On cloudy days and rainy days the wind turbine will generate the electricity and on sunny days the solar panels will generate the electricity.
The Chinese company who make these street lamps with patent rights has successfully fitted these Hybrid lamps on many roads in China and neighbouring countries.
This company has offered to give technical proposals free of charge to Sri Lanka and have mentioned willingness to work on the China Sri Lanka credit line if necessary. The letters offering free technical proposals were handed over to the top officials of the SEA and RDA few months back and none has responded to make use of this opportunity to overcome the power crisis. This proposal will also reduce the burden on the CEB to generate electricity to light up these street lamps. It may be noted that less electricity generation by the CEB will reduce the import bill on fossil fuels.
(Jayatilaka is a creative eco products promoter)