Solar lighting applications - White paper

Solar lighting is now being used in a wide range of applications as an energy-saving and carbon-neutral lighting solution.


Unveiling the versatility of solar lighting applications




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Solar LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular in the lighting industry due to its efficiency and cost effectiveness. Using solar energy is a beneficial way to decarbonise lighting. It reduces reliance on fossil fuels and grey energy sources, helping cities and communities to lower their carbon footprint. As cities aim to become net zero, the use of solar lighting helps to achieve this goal, as well as raising public awareness about renewable energy and encouraging sustainable practices. Solar lighting is now being used in a wide range of applications as an energy-saving lighting solution. Find out more about the benefits it can bring to your community, its preferred applications and its limitations. Unveiling the versatility of solar lighting applications BRILLIANCE FROM THE SUN


WHY SOLAR LIGHTING? Solar lighting offers significant savings compared to grid lighting.

Energy savings

With solar lighting, there are no electricity costs because the luminaires are powered by renewable energy from the sun. This means that businesses and communities can save money on their electricity bills, which can add up to significant savings over time.

Maintenance savings Solar LED lighting requires minimal maintenance. With no reliance on power transmission or distribution infrastructure, there are fewer components to wear out or require maintenance. There is no need to schedule specific maintenance for the solar kit as the solar panels are self-cleaning. This means that maintenance costs are much lower than with grid lighting.


Installation savings Solar lighting can be installed quickly and easily without the need for electrical infrastructure. This means that installation costs are much lower than grid-connected lighting, especially in remote areas or areas with difficult terrain.

Environmental savings Solar lighting is environmentally-friendly and has no greenhouse gas emissions or other environmental impacts associated with its operation. This means that businesses and communities can save money by reducing their environmental impact and avoiding potential environmental costs associated with grid lighting. Solar lighting provides a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to grid lighting, with significant savings in terms of electricity, installation, maintenance and environmental impact.


AN EMERGING TREND In the changed post-COVID business landscape, the global market for solar street lighting, estimated at €5.65 billion in 2022 , is projected to reach €20.6 billion by 2030 , growing at a CAGR of 17.5% over the period 2022-2030 1 . The LED segment alone is expected to grow significantly, with a projected CAGR of 22.1% and reaching €17.4 billion by the end of 2030 . This growth can be attributed to the increasing maturity of LED technology, which has led to a significant decrease in prices and an increase in efficiency. As a result, LED-based solar street lighting solutions are becoming more accessible and cost-effective, driving their adoption across various geographies.


facts and figures about solar energy 2 6

TWh Earth constantly receives approximately The most abundant energy source on earth 173,000 1 of energy from the sun. This is more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy consumption.


The fastest-growing

Global solar power grew from renewable energy source TO in 2010 0.8%


Minimal greenhouse

gas emissions

in 2019 10.3%

Estimated life-cycle emissions for photovoltaic (PV) solar cell systems are between

and 32


3% of global electricity

82 gr. CO2eq/kWh.

generation Power generation from solar in 2020 grew by a record 156TWh to reach marking 23% growth from 2019, and accounts for 3.1% of global electricity generation. TWh, 921 Almost 30 years The resistance of solar panels to extreme weather has been drastically improved, bringing their average durability to about three decades with little to no loss in efficiency. 6


The cheapest electricity in history According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), solar power is now the cheapest electricity in history.

1 ReportLinker 2 Earth.Org


TOP 10 APPLICATIONS FOR SOLAR LIGHTING Street lighting Solar LED street lighting offers significant financial benefits to municipalities, with potential savings of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of euros. It requires fewer updates and repairs, resulting in a longer lifespan and reduced maintenance costs. Solar LED lighting is also a practical solution for lighting secondary roads as it requires less maintenance, can be installed without disrupting the road and reduces energy consumption. In addition, solar lighting improves safety and visibility at junctions on country roads, addressing the challenges faced by cyclists, pedestrians and motorists who share these junctions. By providing efficient and cost-effective lighting, solar LED street lighting enhances security, reduces maintenance and offers long-term financial benefits to communities. Car parks Outdoor car parks are infrastructures that typically do not have an electrical network necessarily available. As a result, it can be challenging to provide adequate lighting in these areas. However, solar LED lighting can be an ideal solution for lighting car parks. Combining solar lighting with motion detection technology can further increase the efficiency of car park lighting. By detecting the presence of users, the lighting level can be increased only when needed, reducing energy waste and ensuring that users can safely navigate the car park.



While most parks generally close at nightfall, some may extend their opening hours. Installing adequate lighting is crucial for parks, but it may not always be feasible due to the lack of access to electricity. This is where solar lighting systems can be of great assistance. If the park is accessible to visitors before sunrise, it would be beneficial to programme the solar powered lighting to come on a few hours before dawn. This will not only make it easier for early morning joggers to navigate the area, but will also improve their safety by increasing their visibility.

Bus stops Solar lighting provides a solution to poorly lit bus stops, improving overall safety for commuters. With impressive longevity and the ability to charge during the day, solar lighting is unlikely to fail when it is needed most at night. Dimming profiles can be programmed to adjust the level of the solar lights according to bus schedules. This means that the lights can be brighter during peak commuting times, such as early morning or evening, when visibility is most important for safety.


Residential areas Residential areas can benefit greatly from solar LED lighting. These luminaires provide a sense of safety for residents while reducing energy costs for the community. With proper lighting, the risk of accidents and crime can be significantly reduced. As these areas may not receive the same level of maintenance and attention as main roads, it’s important to choose lighting solutions that are durable and require minimal maintenance. Solar LED lighting ticks both of these boxes as it is long lasting and requires very little maintenance.

Bike paths

Solar lighting is a clean and renewable energy source that produces no greenhouse gas emissions, making it an environmentally- friendly option. By using solar lighting on bike paths, cities and towns can reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions, while still providing safe and reliable lighting for cyclists. As these paths may be located in remote areas or require extensive electrical infrastructure to connect to the grid, solar lighting can be a practical and affordable alternative. In addition, solar lighting helps to create a more sustainable and harmonious environment for everyone, with low levels of light that meet the needs of cyclists and minimise the impact on local wildlife.


Pedestrian crossings

Remote pedestrian crossings on unlit roads can greatly benefit from solar LED lighting. These crossings can be particularly dangerous for pedestrians as they may not be visible to drivers, especially in low light or adverse weather conditions. By installing solar LED lighting at remote pedestrian crossings, local authorities can improve safety for pedestrians by creating a proper contrast that makes the crossings more visible to drivers. This can help reduce the risk of accidents and improve overall safety for pedestrians.

Campuses Solar lighting is ideal for campuses due to its energy efficiency, cost savings and environmental sustainability. It provides reliable outdoor lighting while reducing dependence on grid power. The ease of installation and scalability of solar lighting systems allows campuses to implement lighting solutions without significant disruption. Well-lit outdoor spaces contribute to campus safety and security. Solar lighting demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness.


Business and industrial facilities Solar lighting enables outdoor business and industrial facilities to reduce energy costs by using renewable energy from the sun. This can help control operating costs and provide a reliable lighting solution that can withstand extreme weather conditions. Solar LED lighting requires minimal maintenance, further reducing running costs over time. With reliable lighting that provides a safe working environment, industrial facilities can increase productivity and employee satisfaction. Recreational sports areas and playgrounds The right lighting is essential for the safe use of recreational sports facilities and playgrounds at night. Solar LED lighting is an ideal solution for these areas, not only because it can be easily installed without disturbing the natural environment, but also because it can help reduce energy costs and improve energy independence. By using solar LED lighting in recreational sports areas, communities can become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly, while providing safe and reliable lighting for sports enthusiasts. This makes it a practical and cost- effective option for local authorities looking to improve the safety and sustainability of their recreational sports areas.


IS THERE ENOUGH SUN IN YOUR AREA FOR SOLAR LIGHTING? Contrary to popular belief, the use of solar lighting is not limited to specific geographic locations or climates. Solar lighting solutions come in a variety of ranges designed to cover the specific needs of any region, regardless of its level of solar irradiance or climatic conditions. The key features of a resilient and high-performance product include: ● a battery capable of withstanding a wide range of temperatures, ● an efficient cooling system to prevent the battery and electronic components from overheating, ● photovoltaic panels with a self-cleaning hydrophobic coating. In addition to offering equipment that is resistant to extreme temperatures, dust, or corrosion, solar lighting providers need to ensure they can deliver uninterrupted lighting service all year round. Advanced technology ensures optimal energy management, meaning street lights provide reliable lighting 365 nights a year throughout the world, in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 70°C.

Would you like to check the level of solar irradiance of a specific location? Go to



There are a number of factors to consider when calculating the return on investment (ROI) for solar lighting and on-grid lighting solutions. The initial costs of both options, including installation and equipment, need to be calculated. The on-going maintenance and energy costs of each option must also be taken into account. Once these factors have been determined, a comparison can be made to see which solution offers the best long-term financial and environmental benefits. It’s important to note that solar lighting typically has a higher initial cost but lower on-going costs, while on-grid lighting has a lower initial cost but higher running costs. Analysing these factors gives a clear picture of the ROI for each option, allowing a better decision to be made based on the specific needs of a project.


Theoretical calculation for a 60W luminaire*

On-grid luminaire

Solar-powered luminaire







Solar kit



Total initial investment (without grid extension)



Running costs

€55/year (4,000 burning hours/year)


Energy (0.2104€/kWh 1 )

€200/year (based on published figures from major cities)



ROI calculation

On-grid luminaire

Solar-powered luminaire

5.5 years

Break even



TCO over 12 years 2



€1,970 (-47%)

The above use case assumes that the grid is readily available. For completely new installations (including grid extension and based on an average estimated cost of €300/m and a spacing of 30m), the investment for solar lighting can be as much as 85% lower than for grid lighting. And that’s without counting the costs of connection to the electrical cabinet billed by the electricity network operator. This makes solar lighting even more financially attractive.

1 Eurostat: prices_for_non-household_consumers 2 With a yearly inflation rate of 2% (average annual inflation rate in Europe between 2013-2022). 15

Copyright © Schréder S.A. 2023 - Executive Publisher: Stéphane Halleux - Schréder S.A. - rue de Mons 3 - B-4000 Liège (Belgium) - The information, descriptions and illustrations herein are of only an indicative nature. Due to advanced developments, we may be required to alter the characteristics of our products without notice. As these may present different characteristics according to the requirements of individual countries, we invite you to consult us.

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