A technology revolution is taking place in lighting that will be as dramatic as the displacement of rotary dialed phones with smart phones. The impacts of this lighting revolution will be lower electric bills, reduced emissions, smart buildings that automatically respond to human activity and most critically, American jobs!
Today, 22% of America’s electricity bill pays for lighting. The electric bill for our 4 billion light bulbs is over $70 billion annually.
One estimate on lighting’s environmental footprint is that the lighting of an average home generates approximately 2,000 lbs of CO2 emissions which is similar to using 100 gallons of gasoline.
Compact fluorescent lighting was the first major lighting technology wave for driving down electricity consumption to achieve both lower electric bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star light bulbs use 75% less electricity than incandescent lights. The estimate is that if every household replaced just one incandescent light with a CFL it would save $600 million in electricity costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
But the ultimate lighting solution appears to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). This is semiconductor-based technology that generates lights from the movement of electrons. In terms of technology, LEDs are like “digital” where incandescent and fluorescent are like “analog.”
As a digital technology, LEDs hold the promise of achieving the same type of declining cost curve that has benefitted computers and phones. The LED light’s potential is for a 20% annual decline in costs. Achieving this competitive price level could result in half of all lighting fixtures being LED by 2017!
However, today’s LED light fixture can cost 10 times more than incandescent and fluorescent light fixtures. Still, because the LED light fixture only uses a fraction of the electricity consumed by “analog” lights, the LED light fixture is replacing fluorescent lighting in commercial applications like convenience stores and industrial applications that use metal halide lights. The financial results in these applications typically generate less than two year paybacks.
Lunera is an LED lighting company that has purposefully located their manufacturing facility in the heart of Silicon Valley so it can harvest that industry’s technology transfers to enable an aggressive cost curve decline for the manufacture of Lunera’s LED light fixtures. The following exclusive video interview with Tom Quinn, VP of Lunera profiles the bright future LED technology offers in terms of lowering electricity costs, reducing GHG emissions and creating manufacturing and construction jobs in the United States:
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 that connects businesses with customers who are seeking smart, healthy and green solutions. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles best practices of businesses making money going green. Look for Bill in your city as he implements a national program called Green Builds Business created by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from Walmart.