Cities find bright way to cut energy use
The Israel Electric Corporation burns 13 million tons of coal and fuel every year to supply Israel's citizens with the tens of thousands of megawatts demanded. Campaigns to reduce energy use and proposals to build additional polluting plants have been raised as possible solutions. But there is another option with proven success.
"The cheapest source of power today is saving energy," says Eran Tagor, CEO and founding partner of Power Electronics. "We have to optimize energy use and take better advantage of energy output, which is partially wasted, thus not creating more pollution by burning fuel, while not compromising the electricity supply."
In that spirit, Power Electronics, of Or Yehuda, has developed lighting control devices, which are installed on electric boards to reduce energy consumption from lightbulbs by 20-30 percent. About 80 local councils, including Kiryat Ata, Tivon, Shoham and Kiryat Motzkin, and a number of private firms like Motorola and Paz, have adopted the Lighting Energy Controller (LEC) and installed it in their new neighborhoods. Despite this, company representatives call these measures "a drop in the bucket," and are striving to persuade other local councils to adopt this frugal, green technology as a national project.
The device, developed by company founder and chairman Shimon Limor, sets voltage at the minimum level required for lights, such as street lamps, which require less voltage than, for instance, electric motors.
"The Israel Electric Corporation produces high-voltage electricity to power motors and air conditioners. The light bulbs on the street consume the same amount, even though they don't need it. The controller supplies the bulbs with the output that they need - thereby saving electricity, and prolonging the life of the bulb, because it runs on less electricity," said Oren Morgan, the company's marketing director.
Huge environmental impact
In addition to the financial advantages, the LEC system has important environmental factors. It reduces energy consumption, which in turn reduces air pollution and consumption of fossil fuels. Since 2003, the town of Kiryat Ata, which suffers from heavy pollution caused by plants in the nearby Haifa Bay, has installed 60 lighting control devices. Just one device can serve 50-100 street lights, depending on the electricity output. This measure has saved the town from burning nearly 3 million kilograms of coal.
"If Israel were to adopt this technology on a national level, we could save NIS 2.8 billion in superfluous spending on electricity and reduce air pollution by 2.6 million tons of coal," says Limor. He says energy conservation devices must answer to three questions: "Will a device save energy? Does it have a positive return on investment? Does it contribute to the environment?"
Limor says the LEC works on all three fronts.
"The system does not compromise the delivery of electricity, and it has been proven that the investment is returned within two years," says Tagor, who adds, "Each and every one of us is responsible for fighting global warming, on a personal, social and national level. This instrument has been proven to contribute to that war. We are proud of that and will invest additional resources to remain on the frontline of this war."