Solid State Lighting and Its Growing Impact in Carbon Emission Reduction

By WPG AmericasFebruary 25, 2016

Today, Solid State Lighting (SSL) is a hot topic in the field of energy saving and carbon emission reduction. According to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), SSL has the potential to reduce lighting energy use across the nation by as much as 50% by 2030. In a recent article in LEDsMagazine.com, Prajit Ghosh, research director for Americas Power and Renewables Research at Wood Mackenzie briefly discussed the U.S. carbon-emission reduction targets of the newly proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) and how efficient LED lighting is contributing towards meeting those targets.

Ghosh, a speaker in the upcoming Strategies in Light (SIL) conference (in Santa Clara, CA), acknowledged the growing role of SSL in the lighting industry while raising a very pertinent question: “Will the industry be able to meet its technical and commercial challenges to achieve larger goals that the power industry faces — in terms of rapidly transitioning to lower carbon generation to achieve aggressive carbon reduction goals and combat even larger issues like global climate change?” Before we get into the discussion, it’s worth taking a look the benefits that SSL products offer:

  • Low power consumption
  • Digitally controllable
  • Ultra-long source life
  • Able to withstand strong vibrations
  • Low maintenance
  • No UV or IR radiation
  • No mercury content

These benefits combined with falling product costs are the reasons why homeowners and businesses are switching over to SSL at an ever-faster pace. This move is not only helping save millions of dollars on energy and reducing carbon emissions but it’s also making us less reliant on fossil generated power.

Ghosh explains that the goals set per the Clean Power Plan (CPP)—the first national carbon regulation in the U.S.—are already being accomplished. For instance, the plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030. In 2015, emissions were estimated to be 18% below 2005 levels. A big share of this drop (nearly 40%) can be attributed to a reduction in energy consumed from lighting, said Ghosh. Increase in market saturation of efficient lighting (CFLs, LEDs) and positive policy mandates like lighting standards have been driving the growth of SSL to a great extent.

When it comes to carbon emissions, the goals are “still aggressive” and “not all the savings achieved to date are here to stay — at least a subset of the ones that were not driven by lighting efficiencies. So this task of achieving carbon reduction remains formidable,” added Ghosh.

Though the Clean Power Plan doesn’t talk about energy efficiency as a means to meet carbon emission reduction goals, energy efficient moves, especially related to lighting, can help us achieve those goals. According to Ghosh, the answer lies in possible solutions like replacing carbon-intensive coal with cleaner natural gas, building solar and wind facilities, etc., but the question is:  “can LED lighting in particular now serve as one vehicle to achieve this transition within the power sector goals to meet larger climate change goals? In return, will there be an opportunity to monetize investments that the industry is making?”

If you’re interested in this discussion, Prajit Ghosh will be addressing these questions and more, at the upcoming Strategies in Light conference on March 2, 2016.