What gas is in a street lamp

Street lighting : Berlin is abolishing gas lanterns - but more slowly than planned

Doomed to die shine longer: About ten years after the start of the retrofitting, around 30,000 of the once 40,000 gas lamps still exist in Berlin. In coordination with the State Monuments Office, only 3300 of the lanterns installed around a century ago are to be permanently preserved. And that in itself was a concession to the many friends of Berlin's characteristic gas light, which bathes residential streets in the western districts in a cozy light without dazzling. Currently, the lanterns can exude their charm for almost 16 dark hours a day.

Depending on the budget, around 3000 gas lights are converted to electricity every year. While the so-called gas row lights have practically disappeared along the main streets, the focus is now on the top-mounted and pendant lights in the neighborhoods. It turns out to be fortunate that the retrofitting did not start earlier: Only in the last few years have the warm white light-emitting diodes, whose light can hardly be distinguished from that of the gas mantles, become better and cheaper.

While the administration said four years ago that LED technology was too expensive as a city-wide standard, the traffic authority has now announced: "We have been purchasing LED lights for a long time, almost without exception" - also as a replacement for the almost 200,000, some of which are aging Electric lights, of which sodium vapor lamps make up the majority with 45 percent, followed by fluorescent lamps with 30 percent. The costs have fallen sharply, especially for those models that other municipalities have also bought.

This applies less to the gas lanterns as a Berlin specialty, especially since in many cases the masts turn out to be irreparable. On the other hand, their operating costs decrease the most. As a guideline, the administration cites 50 euros per electrical location per year and 350 to 400 euros per gas lamp.

Gas lanterns waste almost 98 percent of the energy

Most recently, 1,800 gas lights were replaced by LEDs in Spandau - half of them funded by the EU. The money is there because of the efficiency gain, because gas lanterns burn up almost 98 percent of the energy as heat. According to the environmental administration, the energy consumption per luminaire drops from 4469 to 100 kilowatt hours per year, which in Spandau alone avoids around 1560 tons of CO2 emissions.

Currently, some gas pendant lights in Marzahn-Hellersdorf are being retrofitted; The next big project is supposed to start in Wedding in the spring. By 2020 it will affect more than 5,500 gas lamps in Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Hermsdorf and Moabit. CO2 savings according to the administration: 5030 tons per year. That corresponds to the annual balance of almost 1000 average Berliners.

How much of the CO2 savings of 30 to 50 percent announced in the Senate's “lighting concept” of 2011 has already been achieved in street lighting was left open by the administration upon request. She only reports that gas consumption has fallen by more than 30 percent since 2012.

"The LED imitations look good - but they are not gas lights whose potential as a World Heritage Site was confirmed by monument expert Peter Burman," says Bertold Kujath, chairman of the Gaslight Culture Association. In addition, it is to be feared that cheaper variants would be installed if EU funding ends.

There are 224,000 lanterns across the city

The gas lanterns and their LED clones are favorites, but at the same time a minority among the city's 224,000 lanterns. The sum has been constant for many years. According to the environmental administration, there are usually a few more when it comes to retrofitting. At the same time, there are departures elsewhere, for example "because the ownership and dedication relationships change".

What is meant by this, recently experienced some Siemensstadt residents, in whose private streets the gas lamps disappeared without replacement. "We could get this problem more often because of the increasing number of private roads," says SPD MP Daniel Buchholz. Most of the time, private roads are located in new quarters and are equipped with lanterns as soon as they are built, "but the obligations of a private road owner, for example with regard to road safety, are nowhere clearly regulated."

The administration emphasizes that the owners of existing private roads are warned in advance and are usually offered to take over the lanterns for continued operation on their own account. The dismantling of the Spandau gas lights without replacement would therefore be an exception. Mostly the topic concerns allotment gardens and access routes in large estates.

While the LEDs mostly come from the Far East, the local innovations are manageable: the lighting on Bundesplatz, which went into operation in 2016, is still the only one that automatically dims its light between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. when no one is on the move - and switches it on again under sensor control as soon as something moves.

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