Will L.E.D.’s Light the Future?

by | Jul 30, 2008

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led_lighting.jpgLighting Science Group Corp. announced it has acquired Lamina Lighting Inc., which develops light emitting diodes (L.E.D.) engines and modules for $4.5 million in cash. This comes just as the New York Times reports L.E.D.’s are gaining serious traction.

Some lighting executives are convinced that new lower-cost L.E.D bulbs with improved efficiency, will slowly substitute incandescent bulbs in homes, and that compact fluorescents are just an interim technology because of their large size, the unpleasant color of light, and the five milligrams of mercury in each bulb. Waste Management recently launched an online program to deal with the possible mercury leakage during recycling by offering a special bulb safe box for the price of $14.95.

While a compact fluorescent bulb typically uses about 20 percent of the energy needed for a standard bulb to emit the same amount of light, L.E.D.’s uses only about 15 percent.

L.E.D.’s dominated the lighting industry’s annual trade event, Lightfair, in May in Las Vegas and is rapidly replacing older products. The New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square on New Year’s Eve is illuminated with L.E.D.’s. and so is a factory in Wisconsin.

But some industry insiders think the high cost of L.E.D.’s will put off consumers. It costs $1 for  a standard 60-watt incandescent, $2 for an equivalent compact fluorescent. But a new L.E.D. bulb to be introduced this September by Philips will cost $107 a bulb.

Philips is in high gear to develop efficient light bulbs but is faced with the problem that politicians wants incandescent bulbs phased out faster than the industry can deliver alternatives.

According to The NY Times, Philips is throwing its considerable weight behind the research:

Philips is working to decrease the penetration of compact fluorescent bulbs. “We are not spending one dollar on research and development for compact fluorescents,” said Kaj den Daas, chairman and chief executive of Philips Lighting. Instead, the bulk of its R.& D. budget, which is 5.2 percent of the company’s global lighting revenue, is for L.E.D. research. Philips is betting the store on the L.E.D. bulbs, which it expects to represent 20 percent of its professional lighting revenue in two years.

Over the next 10 years, China, which makes 70 percent of the world’s lightbulbs, has agreed to phase out incandescent bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient ones.

EU leaders have decided that The European Union’s 490 million citizens will have to use energy-efficient lighting by the end of the decade.

Australia has announced it would phase out incandescents and Greenpeace has asked India to follow Australia’s lead.

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