Smartnodes by Lacroix City in Heinsberg (Germany)

Heinsberg city center becomes a showcase project. Sensors will control the required light intensity at night.

By Anna Petra Thomas

HEINSBERG Investing in modern street lighting and saving a lot of money at the same time is now possible in Heinsberg thanks to a partnership with a local network operator. “Heinsberg will have a shop window character”, says Eduard Sudheimer, managing director of Alliander Netz Heinsberg GmbH. For him, the inner city of Heinsberg is becoming a showcase project to win further customers all over Germany for his innovative Smart Street solution in the form of dynamic and connected street lighting. What is meant by this was explained by Eduard Sudheimer and network operations manager Hans-Gerd Bräkling in a press conference.

It is well known that the light sources of street lamps are dimmed in the late evening and at night to save electricity. What is new about the system developed by Alliander together with technology partners is that the light intensity of the modern LED lighting is automatically adjusted to the use by road users with the help of sensors. It will be a rather inconspicuous ball on the otherwise simple, anthracite-colored light masts that makes exactly that possible. “Smartnodes” is the name of the small technology bundle that house a presence detector and a Doppler radar inside. This allows to determine the size of an object in the traffic area, its direction of movement and its speed. The light intensity is automatically adjusted accordingly.

After a positive test phase on Karl-Arnold-Strasse and on the company car park in front of the Alliander building in Oberbruch, this new technology is to be used in the future in the Heinsberg city center, on the market square and in the bus station, on Hochstrasse and Apfelstrasse as well as on its connections, Liecker Strasse and Patersgasse, and also on Stiftsstrasse, Rathausstrasse and Erzbischof-Philipp-Strasse. “The pilot phase is over,” explained Eduard Sudheimer. The knowledge gained from this is now to be used “as a blueprint” for the city center.

“Smart Lighting” fits the idea for Heinsberg as a “Smart City”, the Alliander boss continues. The district town is already managing to generate 81 percent of its annual electricity consumption of 150 million kilowatt hours (kWh) from a variety of energy sources such as biogas, photovoltaics or fuel cells. Modern, economical street lighting can make a further contribution to this good rate. And this is not only environmentally conscious and sustainable with regard to electricity consumption. In addition to the purely monetary perspective for the electricity saved, it is also important to consider the reduced maintenance and repair costs for the new lighting and, last but not least, the savings in carbon dioxide (CO2).

Overall, the implementation of the project would reduce the street lighting costs for the Heinsberg city center annually by almost 34 percent, the Heinsberg experts have calculated. The CO2 savings add up to 44 tons per year. The entire project is calculated for a total of 15 years. Alliander is making an advance payment by investing around 600,000 euros in the necessary “hardware”. It is repaid annually by the city together with the electricity costs.

Last but not least, the new solution literally also provides more space, for example on the Heinsberg market. In the future, instead of the 32 bell lanterns that were previously shining there, only twelve innovative light masts would be required, “with improved lighting conditions”, explained Hans-Gerd Bräkling. Of course, this also saves resources in terms of maintenance and repair. “So far, events have also failed because of the existing masts,” he said. Market feeders simply could not have set up their stalls or rides due to a lack of space. Some of them would have had to be removed for the ice rink at the Christmas and winter markets and then put back up again later.

When the innovative dynamic lighting in the city center can be realized has not yet been determined, because funding is to be applied for from the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Community projects would be funded with 20 percent, and for the situation in the lignite region another 15 percent would be added, said Bräkling.

New Christmas Illumination

Alliander will invest a further 200,000 euros in new Christmas illumination for the city center this year and also support the city with the installation.

He left it open whether there will be a Christmas and winter market with an ice rink this year. If you decide at the beginning of October, everything can still be achieved, he explained in this context. At the same time, he spoke of initial considerations, perhaps to straighten out the market in terms of space and time.