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Lighting the World with 10 Billion LED Bulbs

Chad S. Gallinat, U.S. Global Lighting Challenge lead

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The best-performing 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs available today consume 85 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts. Photo: flickr/Chris RubberDragon

Stand next to a traditional incandescent light bulb and a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb, and you will feel the difference as much as see it. Both produce the same amount of light, yet the incandescent bulb is too hot to touch. All that excess heat is wasted energy.

LED technologies slash this waste dramatically. The best-performing 60-watt equivalent LED bulbs available today consume 85 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts.  What’s more, the bulbs have seen a dramatic cost reduction — 94% since 2008. With their vast potential for energy savings, lower costs, improved performance, and added benefits like long life and maintenance savings, LEDs are driving an energy-efficient lighting revolution.

But much of the world still relies on non-LED technology. Lighting accounts for 15 percent of global electricity consumption and 5 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, 1.2 billion people lack access to modern energy services, including reliable lighting. For many, hazardous energy sources such as kerosene are the only option.

To address these immense problems, last year at COP21 in Paris, the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) launched the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC) — a race to deploy 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality, and affordable lighting products (such as LEDs) as quickly as possible.

Since its launch, the GLC has built a public-private volunteer coalition of more than 40 governments, manufacturers, retailers, and expert groups. Sixteen countries and the European Commission have already endorsed the GLC and are actively contributing to the 10-billion-bulb goal. At the time of this printing, the GLC had accumulated more than eight billion LED lighting products pledged toward the 10 billion goal, and more than 150 million deployed around the world.

The GLC provides a high-profile global platform to recognize public- and private-sector leaders driving the global transition to efficient lighting and cutting global carbon emissions. The GLC will continue to seek additional commitments until the goal of 10 billion bulbs is achieved. The GLC asks participants to commit to stock, sell, promote, finance, or implement policies encouraging the sales of advanced lighting products. Participants are big and small businesses, retailers and manufacturers, regional and global development agencies, and local and national governments, to name a few.

Population growth and increased urbanization are expected to cause a 50-percent rise in lighting demand by 2030. However, if we accelerate the global lighting transition to advanced lighting solutions such as LEDs (through campaigns like the GLC), we have the ability to cut electricity consumption from lighting in half over that same time period. That’s 50 percent more light using 50 percent less electricity!

What’s more, a global transition to highly efficient LED lamps could avoid 800 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year, equivalent to 684 coal-fired power plants.

More than just a statistic, these efforts are a socioeconomic imperative — an improvement for humanity and the environment, rooted in the innovation and collaboration spurred by efficient lighting.

This article was originally published in IPEECEnergy Efficiency Magazine for COP22.
Categories: Blog, Theme, Energy Demand

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