The City of Copenhagen, located in Denmark, has decided to use their city as a huge experiment, in order to figure out whether energy efficient street lamps — also called smart lights — will actually help cut carbon emissions on a measurable level.
According to Denmark’s official website, the city plans to be a “role model for many of the world’s cities when it come to sustainable town development.”
Copenhagen has been making extensive efforts to become known as a leading city for green technology. Along with the smart light experiment, they have announced a citywide climate change plan that has the lofty goal of making the city “carbon neutral” by 2025. This means that carbon emission levels will be cut so dramatically as to be essentially insignificant and completely negated by other positive energy actions.
Street lamps are part of a long list of things that need to change if the country is to reach this goal. Recent studies have determined that lighting accounts for 6% of all global carbon emissions. Los Angeles, as an example, uses 110,000 metric tons of carbon to keep its city streets lit each year — at a cost of $15 million.
Copenhagen will not be replacing the lights throughout the entire city for the experiment. Instead, they will be sectioning off 5.7 miles of road in one of the city’s parks. Along this road, smart lights will be used, and the energy requirements of the lights will be observed and noted. LED technologies which use energy more efficiently are a part of what makes a smart light “smart”; the other component is automatic dimming when no one is around.
Scientists hope that, eventually, smart lights will become so smart that they will be able to help monitor the city, taking note of potentially dangerous air toxins, or assist with law enforcement.
“Really smart street light systems are going to be much more about the sensors the street lights have… The technology is getting very mature very quickly,” predicts Robert Karlicek, a smart light research engineer based in New York.