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Replacing Europe’s ageing streetlight network with more energy efficient lampposts could save EU taxpayers up to €2.1bn each year in bills and maintenance costs, according to analysis by clean tech collaboration programme Sharing Cities.

At present around €3bn is spent each year on streetlighting across Europe and around 75 per cent of streetlights are more than 25 years old, the analysis found.

As such, upgrading the network to new smart lampposts could slash total annual electricity bills across Europe to around €900m – a reduction of more than €2bn – at the same time as delivering additional savings from reduced maintenance costs, Sharing Cities claims.

New smart lampposts are estimated to use between 50-70 per cent less energy than conventional street lighting, and can also perform a range of complementary tasks including monitoring air pollution and guiding drivers to empty car parking spaces.

As a result, smart lampposts can potentially provide added benefits to cities beyond efficiency savings, such as using data to help reduce chronic congestion that can stifle economic growth and drive up pollution levels, Smart Cities argued.

For example, traffic jams are estimated to cost EU member states €100bn a year, the organisation said, but smart lampposts can use sensors to collect data on where car parking capacity already exists and direct drivers to empty spaces, helping to ease congestion.

At present, Sharing Cities is currently leading on the delivery of smart lampposts in six cities across Europe – London, Lisbon, Milan, Bordeaux, Burgas and Warsaw – testing technologies with a range of functionalities as part of a target to initially install around 56,000 units.

Sharing Cities programme director Nathan Pierce said smart lampposts were a “win-win”, making city environments more pleasant to live in while also generating annual financial savings across Europe that could pay for more than 20,000 extra doctors.

“It’s key that cities embrace smart lampposts in a bid to free up money to be spent on vital public services,” said Pierce. “The latest generation of smart streetlighting is helping to tackle some of the issues that city mayors have grappled with for decades. Smart lampposts represent an ingenious way of tackling chronic problems like air pollution and traffic congestion.”

He added: “We are on the precipice of a smart lamppost revolution. This is just the beginning.”

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