Let There be Light- Part 2.0

Posted on April 9, 2010 in unEarthed

Ravi Radhanpura:

This is part 2 of Let There Be Light- Part 1.0.

Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
Warren Buffett

The history of the lighting industry dates back to the nineteenth century with a few exceptional examples of experiments earlier. But the fact that the social and economic impact of the electric power and the light industry has been so great, that some refer to the twentieth century as the “Age of Electricity.” From Edison, Franklin, to GE, Westing house, our society has come a long way from gas lamps to CFLs and now to LEDs. Countries and companies are finding solutions to their ever increasing expenditure and investments in lighting structures, which amount to about 20% of the net energy usage throughout the world. The global lighting industry’s size is about US$ 380 billion if lamps, fixtures, and energy costs are included. Today, the lighting industry is also termed as a niche industry or rather the applications of it are termed so. But let us look into the issue from the eye of an Energy manager.

A Lighting concept has certain terminology that a person must understand. Wattage is a measurement of the electrical energy used by an electrical device, such as a light bulb or a CFL(Compact Fluorescent Lamp). The measurement of light output from a lamp is the lumen. All light bulbs have a lumen rating, and it is the relationship between the lumens being produced and the wattage being consumed that can provide us valuable information about the energy-efficiency of a light bulb. This is the ratio of light output from a lamp to the electric power it consumes and is measured in lumens per watt (LPW) also known as Efficacy. Finally, we have no. of hours for each lighting appliance in thousands. Upon consideration of all these factors, we compare different lights and their usage in different applications.

In this respect, LED(Light Emitting Diode) lighting is a revolution in the industry. Today, LEDs are becoming the most favoured installations at industries and homes, for their varied advantages over other lightings like Incandescent lamps, Compact Fluorescent Lamps or even sodium vapour lamps. The reasons for this are that LEDs consume much less power, have higher energy efficiency than CFLs or incandescent light sources and have an extremely long lifetime of about 50000+ hours, light up instantly and can be dimmed to requirements. LED light bulbs use only 2-10 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL) Small LED flashlight bulbs will extend battery life 10 to 15 times longer than with incandescent bulbs. Also, because these bulbs last for years, energy is saved in maintenance and replacement costs. For example, many cities in the US are replacing their incandescent traffic lights with LED arrays because the electricity costs can be reduced by 80% or more.

According to a study, If all of the world’s light bulbs were replaced with LEDs for a period of 10 years, total energy consumption would be reduced by 1,929.84 joules, electrical energy consumption would be reduced by terawatt hours, and the financial savings would total $1.83 trillion. Also US DOE states, LED lighting could avoid building of 133 new power plants in future. According to another statistics, solid state lighting could reduce the lighting energy by 50% in US alone by 2025, with savings potential ranging from eliminating emission of 258 Mt of CO2 by 2020.

So why don’t we switch to LED lighting across the globe? Why do we waste so much of useful energy and emit so much of potentially hazardous emissions by using other lamps, bulbs? Perhaps, one of the reasons is the high cost of LED fixtures. It must be agreed that LED installment expenditure initially is high. But, when we apply the return on Investment calculations and analyze, then we find that in general, we can get the ROI within 2-3 years of our investment with around 8-10 times the normal life of bulbs or lamps.

Another ignorant question may be, what are the applications of LED? Well, they are used almost everywhere a normal lighting is necessary. Its multiple uses lie in General Illuminations, street lighting, automotive lighting, consumer electronics, optical communication, sensor applications, mobile applications, architectural lighting, etc. I suggest you google the phrase LED APPLICATIONS and you will see the vast ocean of applications. Browsing through LEDs Magazine and CREE site, keeps us updated with the recent advancements as well.

Finally, it may be lame for me write an article dedicated specially to LED lighting and the need for us to adapt to it, but I feel it is high time for us citizens of a better informed world of tomorrow to think about ENERGY SOLUTIONS and apply energy management concepts in our daily lives and businesses. Perhaps, that is why DISNEYLAND’s recent modification to LED lighting and Consumer electronics industry shifting towards LED based TV’s and appliances has given a spark to the world. We also, several governments setting up plans to replace cities and street based lighting with combination of solar PV and LED illumination. One more example of students of Tian Sheng, a polytechnic from China have replaced street lighting into LED based lights themselves and saved more than 70% of energy usage.

Finally, “Energy efficiency is a critical component of our efforts to reduce load-shedding, enhance energy security, and mitigate climate change. Its potential to reduce demand is larger and costs lower than generally believed.”


The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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