Colombia’s longest bridge lit by Fonroche

Case studies / Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

In July 2018, the Viaducto de la Paz, or ‘Viaduct of Peace’, was officially opened to motorists and other road users. This major infrastructure upgrade is vital for the region’s economic growth, and the project was conducted in accordance with sustainable development best practices. From materials to construction techniques, the 5.4-kilometer (3.4 mi) bridge blends with the wetland ecosystem it spans, called the Cinénaga de la Virgen.

To ensure optimum safety for bridge users, close to 400 solar public streetlights were installed along its length. Fonroche Lighting — a midsize company working out of southwest France and the market leader — is ready to meet the requirements of the world’s largest off-grid urban lighting projects. Successfully delivering a lighting solution for Colombia’s longest bridge was an important challenge for the firm.

Here’s some more detail about this project.

Fonroche solar technology comes to Colombia

Given the environmental imperatives of this major infrastructure project, solar technology was the clear choice for the lighting component. Entirely off-grid, Fonroche streetlights provide guaranteed lighting 365 nights a year, with no outages and no electricity bills.

Key project phases

On all our projects, the first task is to conduct a local solar survey to determine the exact lighting requirement. This is done directly by Fonroche Lighting’s design office team in four stages:

  • Computer generate a typical year in terms of local sunlight levels, based on data for the last decade. This gives us the number of potential annual sunlight hours. For this project, we used data from three weather stations near the site. The solar irradiance figure for the local area is 5.07 kW/m² per day.
  • Calculate the PV panel output and battery charge level for each day of the year.
  • Determine the lighting profile for optimum management and control. Because the bridge spans a protected wetland area, lighting needs to be closely regulated so it doesn’t disturb the wildlife.
  • Perform a worst-case scenario calculation to ensure the PV modules generate enough power on the shortest and lowest sunlight days of the year.

Once the solar survey is complete, we then conduct a photometric study to ensure each streetlight is optimally located.

Final installation of the solar solution

Along the length of the 5.4-kilometer (3.4 mi) bridge, Fonroche installed 390 public solar streetlights from our Smartlight range. With 9-meter (30 ft) poles and single crosspiece, they’re spaced 27 meters (89 ft) apart.

The built-in connectivity system was programmed to allow the streetlights to be controlled remotely.

Photometric study of Colombia’s birdge

Colombia’s first off-grid lighting project – one year on

After a year in operation, feedback from motorists and other bridge users has confirmed the many benefits of the Fonroche solution:

  • Highest levels of safety. Bridge brightly lit every night, no exceptions.
  • Visually comfortable illumination. Level of lighting power automatically adjusted to traffic volumes.
  • A showcase of green technology. Solar streetlights perceived as the most environmentally responsible solution — and they further enhance the bridge’s overall esthetic design.

Building on the success of this lighting project, we’ve since won other contracts in Colombia, such as the Alto Magdalena highway.