The LED lighting wave is reaching Brazil, says Antonio Barbalho, World Bank

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10 June 2016

SAU PAULO: A Forum on ‘Business Models for Energy Efficient Public Lighting’ was held in São Paulo, Brazil on June 1, 2016. The event was attended by over 250 street lighting stakeholders, including senior representation from over 30 major cities, private sector financiers, development banks and manufacturers.

The event, which was organized by the World Bank in partnership with The Climate Group, explored how to scale-up high quality, highly efficient LED (light-emitting diode) street lighting in all Brazilian municipalities. Eight business models were presented, with the intention of providing options for the wide-ranging needs of all 5,570 Brazilian municipalities, including public-private partnerships that have the potential to boost investment in large-scale LED infrastructure projects.

In Brazil, public lighting accounts for around 4% of the nation’s total electricity consumption. At the global COP21 climate talks, Brazil committed to increase energy efficiency by 10% by 2030 – an achievement LED lighting could accelerate.

As well as saving energy and maintenance costs, LEDs offer city leaders opportunities to improve lighting services and provide wider socio-economic benefits for communities by reducing crime and accidents, as well modernizing city infrastructure.


Another incentive for Brazilian cities to adopt LED lighting is recent regulatory changes which require all cities to take full ownership of their public lighting assets – a task previously managed by utilities for a number of Brazilian cities. But while these changes encourage investment in more energy efficient lighting, challenges also arise around supporting cities with technical guidance, as well as finding suitable financing.

In the lead up to the forum, the World Bank released a new report which could help address such challenges, ‘Lighting Brazilian Cities: Business Models for Energy Efficient Public Street Lighting’, which analyzes Brazil’s public lighting sector. A Portuguese version of the full report is available.

Based on city studies and surveys in more than 300 municipalities, the report identifies business models and innovative financial structures that match the needs and capabilities of different sized cities. The World Bank also provides recommendations to governmental institutions on developing effective new policies and mechanisms to help Brazilian cities take ownership of their public lighting.


The forum was opened by the Ex-Secretary of Municipal Services of Sao Paulo, Simão Pedro, and featured speakers from the Brazilian cities of Belo Horizonte and Caraguatatuba, as well as international participation from Ed Ebrahimian, Director of the Bureau of Street Lighting for the City of Los Angeles – all of whom shared their experiences of adopting LED street lighting, including its energy savings benefits.

Los Angeles has saved 63% energy and US$8.8 million in annual savings from the energy reductions, in addition to more than US$3 million in annual reduced maintenance costs. Ed Ebrahimian explained that with today’s lower prices and improvements in performance, even greater savings could now be achieved for cities that begin adopting LEDs today, and urged city representatives to consider implementing LED retrofit initiatives as quickly as possible.

Ed Ebrahimian, Director Bureau of Street Lighting, Los Angeles, said: The City of Los Angeles has benefitted from more than US$11 million in annual savings, growing from 2010 to 2016 with just the LED conversion program. In addition, we have now started deploying smart city applications using street lighting poles and infrastructure, adding different services including leasing selected poles for telecommunication small cell attachments and smart pole deployments. The benefits of LED street lighting have surpassed our initial program goals both in the energy and maintenance reductions.” 

Topics covered in other sessions included ways to adopt ‘future smart city’ concepts and how to future-proof lighting fixtures, as well as the security of new assets, such as protection against theft and vandalism.


The second day brought together finance stakeholders to discuss investing in energy efficient LED lighting in the public sector and new solutions for mitigating risk. A series of sessions allowed participants to jointly develop actions and policy recommendations that could help build investor confidence and unlock large-scale funding.

The World Bank will be releasing key findings and updates following the forum. In September 2016 The Climate Group will host an LED finance roundtable at Climate Week NYC, in which we will invite the World Bank and IFC to present their latest findings and recommendations.

Dr Peter Curley, Manager of the LED program at The Climate Group comments: “There is a palpable drive to find workable financing solutions that will help Brazil’s cities move to more energy efficient LED lighting. The forum has allowed challenging regional issues to be openly discussed – and we look forward to seeing more regional projects announce their LED transition plans.   

“Supporting national policy can play a key role in helping accelerate energy efficiency, by building consensus among stakeholders and increasing investor confidence. India has already done just that, with a commitment to expand LED street lighting nationwide by mid-2019. Post-COP21 we hope to see more such national commitments around the world, together with supporting initiatives to ensure high-quality product standards are maintained and enforced.”

As part of our LED program, in 2015, The Climate Group called for cities and utilities globally to roll out LED street lighting (or as efficient) by 2025, and launched the LED = Lower Emissions Delivered campaign to support stakeholders at all levels to achieve this goal.

by Arianna Tozzi

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