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Sat September 25 2021

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A14 project embraces solar lighting

22 Jun 18 The Highways England A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme has adopted solar powered temporary lighting towers in preference to traditional diesel ones.

ProLights on the A14
ProLights on the A14

The A14 Integrated Delivery Team (IDT), working on behalf of Highways England, is currently the largest user in the country of year-round temporary solar trailer lights.

It has been estimated that using temporary solar lighting wherever possible will save the A14 project more than 1,000 tonnes of CO2 over the course of construction, contributing significantly to Highways England’s environmental impact goals.

The £1.5bn A14 project is the UK’s biggest current road scheme, with 21 miles of trunk road between Cambridge and Huntingdon being upgraded. A 2,000-strong construction team is at work with a target for completion in December 2020.

Prolectric ProLight solar lighting towers have now been deployed at the three compounds along the route, illuminating site operations and helping to protect worker safety. As a result, savings of 264,000kg of CO2, 98,800 litres of diesel and £80,454 of manpower costs have been achieved in the past 12 months.

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

Trials of a ProLight solar lighting tower were initially conducted on the Brampton compound in March 2016 to assess the potential use of solar power as an alternative to conventional diesel-generator lights.  Following evaluation, the A14 IDT bought a further six units.

Now there are 24 ProLights on the project in preference to diesel-powered lighting wherever possible.

Vinny McCabe, senior works manager for section 3, said: “Since the initial trials, our use of the ProLights has increased and we are now able to remove diesel lights wherever we can.  We are currently using ten in my section and they are operating throughout the night and at the weekends.

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“We are using ProLights to illuminate two newly-constructed permanent roundabouts, enabling works traffic movements and site safety until permanent street lighting is introduced. Further lights are illuminating temporary bridges and laydown areas to enable safe loading and offloading of construction materials.

“Using the lights has saved hugely on our diesel costs and just as important have been the savings in manpower. The ProLights operate automatically, so we have saved the costs of paying two workers to return to a diesel light and switch it on in the morning and off again at night, especially at weekends.

“Without diesel, there is no danger of an environmental impact through spills and no need to move temporary lights away from sensitive areas such as watercourses, before refuelling.”

All ProLight solar units used on the A14 have been fitted with an upgrade that enables the works team to power 1800w 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. 

Eric Milne, section 2 senior works manager, was involved in the early trials and has continue to use the lights. He said: “The great thing about Prolectric’s ProLights is that we haven’t had to touch them since they were delivered. If we want to change the on/off setting 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 and ensures we get optimal usage from them.”

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