Light pollution costs €300k annually

Light pollution costs hundreds of thousands of euro each year, impacting environmental processes and affecting our health, an Irish physics expert claims.

Prof Brian Espey at Trinity College Dublin is heading up a team which aims to protect our skies as part of our natural heritage.

There are 420,000 street lights across the country, accounting for 15%-35% of local authorities’ energy use — at an annual cost of €29m.

However, Prof Espey says as much as 20%-30% of this energy could be wasted through poorly designed or inefficient lighting and the illumination of areas where light is not needed.

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He and some colleagues measured light falling on the ground at locations away from directly illuminated areas and recorded the light scattered back onto the ground from the air. Measurements were taken on clear nights over a 1,000sq km area from Dublin City centre southwards into the Wicklow Hills.

They found that light from Dublin City dominates the natural sky background as far as 45km away. Prof Espey and his team estimate that 2.2 GWh of electricity is wasted in providing light to areas where it is not always needed at an estimated cost of €300,000 annually.

It will be discussed at a symposium — Making Light Work — one of the Trinity Week events — taking place in the Schrödinger Lecture Theatre on April 15.

tcd.ie/trinityweek

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