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Retrofit lighting control system in the running for Canary Wharf pilot

London's Canary Wharf is encouraging the development of smart city technologies - including lighting controls

A system for controlling LED lights over existing power lines is in for a chance of being piloted at Canary Wharf, as part of an innovation competition for smart city technologies.

British manufacturer 8point3 LED is developing an ‘intelligent retrofit lighting solution’ for LED lighting in commercial and industrial settings, that uses power-line communication – a technology that has allows controls to be added to existing buildings without the need for any new wiring.

8point3 is one of six finalists in the sustainable buildings category of Canary Wharf’s Cognicity Challenge, which aims to drive the development of technologies for smart cities. It’s the only lighting company in the running, with other competitors including a company making flooring that harvests kinetic energy from footsteps, and one that makes solar panels that are light enough to be placed on non-load bearing roofs.

The finalists get to spend 12 weeks at Level 39 – Canary Wharf’s ‘accelerator space’ for tech startups – honing their technologies and working out how they can best be applied at the Canary Wharf development.

They’ll get support from Canary Wharf executives and ‘major industry players’ including chip maker Intel and innovation charity Nesta. The winner of each category will get £50,000 and the chance to pilot their technology on the Canary Wharf estate, including the 450,000m2 expansion announced last year.

8point3’s managing director Ashley Bateup (pictured) said the company’s system offers ‘a viable, cost-effective and innovative way to bring LEDs and lighting control to existing building stock’. ‘As the only lighting company chosen for the Cognicity Challenge, we have a unique opportunity to shape our technology to suit the demands of Canary Wharf’s estate and beyond,’ he said.

Canary Wharf Group’s chairman and CEO Sir George Iacobescu said: ‘We launched the Cognicity Challenge in order to promote the development of smart cities technology and the interoperability of systems in future cities. Welcoming these chosen smart cities start-up companies to Canary Wharf is a natural continuation of the group’s original aim to create the cityscapes of and for the future.’

Power-line communication is becoming more and more popular as a way of bringing controls to existing installations. It is currently being used in China for a major retrofit streetlighting controls project by manufacturer Rongwen and controls provider Echelon.