How LEDs Are Making Blackpool Illuminations Greener
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How LEDs Are Making Blackpool Illuminations Greener
13 January 2023
Internationally known as the greatest lighting display, the Blackpool illuminations are a spectacular tradition hundreds of thousands of people enjoy annually. As the decades passed, the designs have become more adventurous to keep the sense of wonder, but the way they were lit was generally the same until last year.
LEDs grow in popularity every year and are now commonplace in many homes and workplaces – and thanks to their reliability and exceptional colour range, they have revolutionised Blackpool illuminations.
LEDs Illuminating Blackpool
For years, this event ran for 66 days, from the end of August to early November. But since 2020, people have been able to enjoy these glorious displays for longer. For 2022, they were on between Friday, 2nd September, and the start of this year (2nd January 2023). This is an extension to the previous traditional time with two months added to ensure that most people can enjoy them, and it came from the Covid 19 Pandemic when Christmas was looking rather bleak for many. The extended months gave residents hope and beauty during a difficult period and helped shops and businesses with a more extended period of hospitality in the area.
The choice of lighting is crucial to accommodate the millions of lights required for the 6.2 miles of Blackpool streets. Since 2002, an increasing number of LEDs are replacing older lighting systems. LEDs are also the standard choice for new installations. The organisers are always looking at ways to reduce costs and improve energy efficiency, and LEDs have proven effective at meeting this need, especially during the energy crisis.
It previously cost roughly £2.4 million annually to present the illuminations and 22 weeks to construct the 500+ displays. However, over the last two decades, with LEDs increasingly prioritised for displays, over 30% are now LEDs, comprising a million LEDs across many displays.
The number of LEDs used is growing primarily due to their energy efficiency. LEDs waste far less electricity than alternative lighting sources. They are 80% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and only 5% of energy is wasted as heat. This efficiency has let the organisers reduce the running cost to £1.75 million.
The transition was started to replace all sodium-based public lights with superior LEDs. Inspired by the success of the illuminations, these will be installed into more permanent elements of Blackpool public lighting. Changing these streetlights, signage and traffic signals have already reduced the city’s energy usage by 75%, with more significant savings predicted once the transition is complete in 2023.
Annually, many LED light manufacturers in the UK will be contributing to the continued improvement of this beautiful event and helping Blackpool to provide unforgettable memories for new generations.
Blackpool’s Evolving Tradition
Since 1879, many generations of families have been in awe of the increasingly complex displays installed around the promenade. This spectacle was commemorated as “artificial sunshine” and went down in history as the greatest free light show on earth. However, it wasn’t until 1912 that the modern style display was introduced when the royal family visited Blackpool. Ten thousand incandescent lightbulbs were installed in what was described as ‘festoons of garland lamps’ by Princess Louise. Apart from the breaks during the two world wars, the displays have continued in popularity to the present day with no end in sight.
This festival of light has grown with new displays, interactive installations, moving displays, lit-up train tours and more, proving Blackpool illuminations as a perfect blend of light and art.
These beautiful light shows are a deep part of Blackpool’s history and the UK as a whole. Most people will have at least one memory of enjoying this traditional event but be unaware of the green energy used to power it.
Green Energy Illuminations
Whilst the event is always predicted to draw an impressive number of visitors in return (roughly 3.5 million people), energy consumption has always been a challenge for the Illuminations and the most significant area of their expenses. This increasing cost inspired the organisers to explore new ways of powering the event.
In 2004, wind turbines helped reduce energy requirements for the first time. This experiment with green sources continued until all the illuminations were powered by renewable, sustainable energy. A combination of small-scale hydropower, wind and biogas set the Blackpool illuminations on a path to be carbon neutral, reducing (as of 2020) 420 tonnes of carbon emissions to zero.
Environmentally Friendly Lighting
These decisions, combined with the increasing investment in LED lighting, simultaneously reduce the energy required whilst sourcing the required energy from green renewables. In addition, previous lighting materials contain harmful chemicals or other components that can harm the environment.
LEDs are not only a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice whilst in operation, but they are also made of non-toxic, recyclable materials to limit harmful waste. As a result, this family-friendly tourist attraction can now keep growing substantially whilst not harming the environment.
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