Bridgelux, the LED startup that has traditionally put its technology into other customers’ lighting systems, has just launched a new business that could put it into competition with those same customers in the growing market of LED streetlights.
Bridgelux announced Thursday that it’s partnering with Chevron Energy Solutions, the energy services arm of the giant oil company, to build and install LED modules that can be retrofitted into a large portion of the streetlights in the United States today.
So far, the partners are testing a handful of the new LED modules in the Northern California cities of Dublin and Livermore. But their target market is the tens of millions of U.S. streetlights that haven’t yet been converted to LEDs, according to Brad Bullington, Bridgelux’s vice president of corporate strategy and development.
For that market, the partners are hoping to bring a solution that’s 30 percent to 50 percent cheaper than today’s retrofit and replacement options, Bullington said in a Wednesday interview. And, with Chevron Energy Solutions’ help, the company plans to finance the projects to allow municipal customers to pay no money upfront, he added.
This isn’t the first time Bridgelux’s LEDs have found their way into streetlights. Last month, when the Livermore-based startup announced its most recent investment of $25 million from Chinese investor Kaistar Lighting, it also announced a new streetlighting project in Tulsa, Okla., putting its LEDs into streetlight luminaires built by partner Amerlux.
Nor is it the first attempt by the LED industry to target streetlights. In fact, outdoor lighting systems have been a natural early target for LEDs, given that their chief advantages — long life, durability and energy efficiency — tend to outweigh their chief disadvantage of higher cost in these situations.