Chevron, Bridgelux to bring LED streetlights to cities

Startup Bridgelux has expanded beyond developing and manufacturing LED tech. Now it aims to brighten city streets across the United States.

Bridgelux has teamed up with Chevron Energy Solutions to retrofit streetlights in U.S. cities with LEDs -- a venture that marks a shift in the solid state lighting startup's business model.

Until now, Bridgelux focused on developing and manufacturing silicon-based LED chips and arrays, which are then sold to companies that make lighting systems. Under the partnership announced today, Bridgelux will build LED lighting modules that it has designed to be installed or upgraded quickly into existing streetlight heads.

Just a few weeks ago, Bridgelux snagged $25 million in funding from China's Kaistar Lighting Co. The company said it will use the funds to accelerate its research, development and production of LED chips and packaging tech for general illumination applications. Kaistar also will provide "cost competitive" manufacturing expertise, a sign that Bridgelux intends to crack the Chinese market. This latest deal with Chevron shows the company is branching into other LED sub-markets.

Cities would be able to swap out the LED modules as technology and energy efficiency advances without having to replace costly infrastructure. The module also allow cities to upgrade the streetlights with sensing and networking capabilities to monitor traffic or control lights. Northern California cities Dublin and Livermore are testing the new LED modules and have upgraded several dozen of their streetlights.

Chevron Energy Solutions, a unit of oil giant Chevron, will provide the financing muscle which will allow cities to upgrade streetlight for no upfront costs. The LED streetlights require 50 percent less power and less maintenance than ordinary streetlights, the companies said in a release today. Local governments can then use these savings to finance the new lighting.

Photo: Fl;ickr user Mourner, CC 2.0; Bridgelux


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