Demand Responsive Lighting: A Scoping Study

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The objective of this scoping study is: 1) to identify current market drivers and technology trends that can improve the demand responsiveness of commercial building lighting systems and 2) to quantify the energy, demand and environmental benefits of implementing lighting demand response and energy-saving controls strategies Statewide. Lighting systems in California commercial buildings consume 30 GWh. Lighting systems in commercial buildings often waste energy and unnecessarily stress the electrical grid because lighting controls, especially dimming, are not widely used. But dimmable lighting equipment, especially the dimming ballast, costs more than non-dimming lighting and is expensive to retrofit into existing buildings because of the cost of adding control wiring. Advances in lighting industry capabilities coupled with the pervasiveness of the Internet and wireless technologies have led to new opportunities to realize significant energy saving and reliable demand reduction using intelligent lighting controls. Manufacturers are starting to produce electronic equipment — lighting-application specific controllers (LAS controllers) — that are wirelessly accessible and can control dimmable or multilevel lighting systems obeying different industry-accepted protocols. Some companies make controllers that are inexpensive to install in existing buildings and allow the power consumed by bi-level lighting circuits to be selectively reduced during demand response curtailments. By intelligently limiting the demand from bi-level lighting in California commercial buildings, the utilities would now have an enormous 1 GW demand shed capability at hand. By adding occupancy and light sensors to the remotely controllable lighting circuits, automatic controls could harvest an additional 1 BkWh/yr savings above and beyond the savings that have already been achieved. The lighting industry’s adoption of DALI as the principal wired digital control protocol for dimming ballasts and increased awareness of the need to standardize on emerging wireless technologies are evidence of this transformation. In addition to increased standardization of digital control protocols controller capabilities, the lighting industry has improved the performance of dimming lighting systems over the last two years. The system efficacy of today’s current dimming ballasts is approaching that of non-dimming program start ballasts.

The study finds that the benefits of applying digital controls technologies to California’s unique commercial buildings market are enormous. If California were to embark on an concerted 20 year program to improve the demand responsiveness and energy efficiency of commercial building lighting systems, the State could avoid adding generation capacity, improve the elasticity of the grid, save Californians billion of dollars in avoided energy charges and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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