Highways England goes green with solar-powered lighting on UK biggest road project

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Highways England (HE) has boosted its green credentials by making the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme the first UK roads project to switch to solar-powered temporary lighting rather than a diesel-generated system.

The A14 Improvement Scheme is currently the UK’s biggest road construction project with a £1.5bn (US$2bn) budget to upgrade 21 miles (34km) of trunk road between Cambridge and Huntingdon. A 2,000-strong construction team is at work with a target for completion in December 2020. Working on behalf of HE, the A14 Integrated Delivery Team (IDT) is now the largest user of year-round temporary solar trailer lights in the country. Using temporary solar-powered lighting wherever possible, will save the A14 project more than 1,000 metric tons of CO₂ over the course of construction, contributing significantly to HE’s environmental impact goals and supporting its commitment to source all project electricity from 100% renewable sources.

The A14 ITD has now deployed a total of 24 ProLight solar lighting towers from Somerset-based zero-emissions technology developer Prolectric, which are installed at the three compounds along the construction route between Cambridge and Huntington, illuminating site operations and helping to protect worker safety. As a result, a saving of 264 metric tons of CO₂ over the course of construction, and £80,454 (US$105,550) of manpower costs have been achieved in the past 12 months.

Prolectric’s ProLight units provide reliable year-round solar-powered temporary lighting, offering ‘like-for-like’ performance as an alternative to conventional diesel-generator systems, with powerful LED illumination. The trailer-mounted battery capacity has been developed to be three times that of any other temporary solar trailer lights, so that even on winter days with 16 hours of darkness, the unit operates consistently and reliably. All ProLight solar units used on the A14 project have been fitted with an upgrade that enables the works team to power 1,800W hand tools, with the solar energy generated and stored in the light’s battery system. The enhancement has increased the team’s ability to reduce carbon impact, as well as removing the noise and fumes of diesel generators. Fitted with a micro-controller and GPS, the smart technology of the ProLights enables on and off times to be controlled automatically, while power usage and carbon savings data can be monitored and recorded via a web portal.

“Our environmental strategy seeks to help protect, manage and enhance the quality of the surrounding environment,” noted HE’s project director, David Bray. “The use of Prolectric solar-powered lights on the project is an excellent innovative approach by the A14 ITD. The use of renewable power sources on the A14 scheme helps us to work in greater harmony with the environment.”

Eric Milne, senior works manager for ITD’s Section 2, commented, “The great thing about the ProLights is that we haven’t had to touch them since they were delivered. If we want to change the on/off settings, we can simply call Prolectric and they will adjust the time setting using their portal. It makes sense for us to use our site resources elsewhere and let Prolectric manage the lights for us; this ensures we get optimal usage from them.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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