Street Lighting is an important service that helps to contribute to safety and security of the public, businesses, and residential spaces. Street lights also aide in crime prevention and recreational activities. Over the years, this service has significantly contributed to the energy consumption from the utility at a considerable cost. 

Based on a study done by the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA), there are about 14,000 street lamps installed throughout Guyana. The main types of street lamps are the 250 watts high pressure sodium vapour (HPSV) lamps and 175 watts mercury vapour lamps. These 14,000 street lamps consume about 12 million kWh of energy annually at an estimated cost of G$670 million per year.

In keeping with its mandate to develop and encourage the development and utilisation of sources of energy, in addition to sources presently in use; and to carry out research into all sources of energy, GEA has explored the opportunities for using solar energy as an alternative to conventional street lighting powered by electricity from the public utility.

Through the use of stand-alone solar-powered street lighting and the use of light emitting diode (LED) lamps, it is possible to significantly reduce the cost that the current street lighting systems incur. These lights utilize photovoltaic (PV) technology which harnesses the sun’s energy by converting it into electricity. The abundance of sunlight in Guyana, and the region at large, therefore makes solar-powered street lighting a very attractive alternative to street lighting powered by electricity from the public utility.  The LED lamps also have an estimated lifetime that is five times longer than conventional HPSV lamps and energy savings of 80% or more.

Converting HPSV street lights to Solar Powered LED Lamps incurs a capital cost; however this can be recouped from the monthly payments which otherwise would have been paid to the electric utility over the lifetime of the lights. Apart from monetary savings there are many additional advantages associated with the use of this type of street lighting. Given that it utilises the sun’s energy, the power generated is continuously available. During the sunlight hours, energy generated by the PV panels is stored in batteries; at nights when sunlight is no longer available the energy stored in the batteries are then delivered to the lamp. Additionally, because they use solar energy, which is renewable and sustainable, standalone solar-based street lighting is environmentally desirable. Another major advantage is that the LED lamp provides a truer colour representation, more depth of field, and greater peripheral vision, which improves safety for drivers and pedestrians.

GEA’s engineers designed and, with the assistance of Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), installed one stand-alone solar-powered street light at the corner of Thomas and Quamina Streets in front of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. The stand-alone solar powered street light consists of a 140W solar panel, 40W LED lamp, 105Ah battery, charge controller, timer, enclosure and mounts. This, the first unit installed by the GEA, cost G$278,300. It is estimated that these costs can be further reduced to about G$200,000 based on optimization of the design and lessons learned. The estimated simple payback for the stand-alone solar-powered street light is about 3 years.

Solar-powered LED street lamps have a major advantage in that they are not affected by utility failure and operate at low voltages hence making them cost effective and a safe option for workers. 

GEA will continue to monitor, research and record the performance of solar-powered street lighting. The information obtained from data gathering, and experience gained from the installation process, will be used to guide decisions with regards to street lighting.

GEA encourages all Municipalities, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and civic groups to observe this pilot lamp as street lighting falls within the mandate of the “owner” of the streets. The Ministry of Works and Communication is responsible for any lighting of the National main roads whilst Local Government organs are responsible for any lighting of local roads and streets.