CFLs (compact florescent light bulbs) may have become the symbol for greener lighting over the last couple of years, but LEDs — those ubiquitous light emitting diodes on everything from digital alarm clocks to laptops — are poised for a global come-from-behind take-over. The key stumbling point has always been the cost the production. That’s about to change.
LEDs use only a tiny fraction of the energy needed by florescents and can last a decade or longer, but manufacturing complications require the use of sapphire, a rare and expensive material. Now research at the University of Cambridge promises a super-cheap alternative. Once that pesky little problem is solved, CFLs — and their inconveniently un-green mercury residues — will soon go the way of….incandescents.
(The EPA’s clean up guidelines for broken CFLs are Hazmat-thorough and energy intensive, which begs the question why anyone living in an earthquake-prone area, or with young children in the house, would want to use them.)
Despite high costs, though, there is strong and growing demand for these energy-miser bulbs both the developing world where the electric grid has yet to reach, and in the developed world where grid-liberation is the goal.
SOURCES & STORIES
Below is a round-up of links that have been featured on the TrackerNews site:
- Light Up the World Foundation: Started by University of Calgary professor Dave Irvine-Halliday, LUWF has pioneered the installation of LED lighting units in the developing world that are powered by renewable sources (solar, wind, even pedal power). The goal is two-fold: bring light to some of the 2 billion people without electricity and provide an alternative to smokey, dangerous, ineffective kerosene lamps. “The Man Who Lit Up the Mountains” is a short video about LUWF and its first project in Nepal.
- The Lumina Project: This is an extremely rich resource for field research and reference materials — a must-visit site. Be sure to check out their collaborative partners for more good leads (e.g., Lighting Africa). “Solid-State Lighting on a Shoestring Budget: The Economics of Off-Grid Lighting for Small Businesses in Kenya,” published last December, is typical of the thoroughness of their field work. It looks at everything from efficiency to consumer price-point sensitivity (~$15, btw). Even the best technology isn’t worth much if it doesn’t address barriers to adoption. (more…)
Filed under: energy, lighting, solar, TrackerNews | Tagged: CFL, d.light, Dean Kamen, LED, light emitting diodes, Light Up the World Foundation, lighting, Lumina Project, One Million Lights Foundation, phytophotonics, Ross Lovegrove, solar, Solar Tree | 1 Comment »