Worry not about embodied energy in off-grid lighting products!

We're all too often met with the question: “Hey, those LED lights are great, but doesn’t it take more energy to make them than they ever save?”  Fair question, but misguided.  

While the question doesn’t pass the sniff test, we haven't had a rigorous and peer-reviewed scientific answer …. until now.

The Lumina Project Team, in partnership with Lighting Africa, has just completed a novel and peer-reviewed assessment of embodied energy in LED off-grid lighting products based on complementary studies from the field and in the lab.  It is titled "High Life-cycle Efficacy Explains Fast Energy Payback for Improved Off-Grid Lighting Systems" and is being published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.

You can get some hints about the approach from the name of the journal.  The "industrial ecology" of the situation is that off-grid lighting essentially empowers people to stop burning kerosene (or burn less in some cases) at their homes in exchange for fossil fuel consumption that happen where products are made...a shift in the industrial ecosystem.  

We found that the energy embodied in the LEDs, batteries, housing, wiring, chargers, and other components of LED systems for most lighting systems is “paid back” within a month or two of use thanks to the kerosene saved.  Looked at another way, the LED light saves 10-40 times as much energy as it takes to manufacture that same light.  The key innovation that unlocks these savings is the high efficacy (efficiency at turning energy into visible light) of LED lights compared to flames.  

These are major energy savings and are on par with making "energy investments" in large scale wind power or solar energy.  In addition to the energy savings, benefits people get better service, have reduced health and safety risks, and can save money. Those benefits arguably are more important for the global poor than less tangible climate and energy concerns, and it turns out that modern lighting is a win-win.  

Plus, as LED products improve (both product quality and the efficacy of LED sources) we anticipate longer service lives and more successful displacement of kerosene lighting, both of which will significantly speed the already rapid recovery of embodied energy in these products.

Our study provides a long list of embodied energy for a variety of components used to construct off-grid LED lighting systems and we invite readers to use this information to analyze other products.

Read all about it in our new report, which can be downloaded here.

Views: 217

Comment

You need to be a member of LuminaNET to add comments!

Join LuminaNET

Comment by Michael Pietrzak on September 11, 2014 at 5:40am

It's great to have evidence to support what we've intuitively known. Great work, thank you.

Comment by Cindy Nawilis on April 3, 2014 at 12:15pm

This is great!

Comment by Yotam Ariel on March 31, 2014 at 5:48am

Very nice!!

Photos

Loading…
  • Add Photos
  • View All

Latest Activity

Profile IconPatrick Velasco, Shubhaang Gupta, Stewart Craine and 1 more were featured
5 hours ago
samson tsegaye commented on Chad Lipton's blog post In the Push to Expand Energy Access, Companies Eye Loan Guarantees
"Dear Chad great, This approach is really important for a country like Ethiopia, Many got stuck by…"
18 hours ago
Stewart Craine replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"I sent another set of quotes to your hotmail account, Jess."
yesterday
Shubhaang Gupta replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"Hey Jessica,  Sounds doable. Let's get in touch and discuss your…"
yesterday
Patrick Velasco commented on Patrick Velasco's event Africa Mini Grids Summit
"Additional exhibitors to the event: Canadian Solar and Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre…"
yesterday
santosh ambekar is now a member of LuminaNET
yesterday
Stewart Craine replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"The standard list of stuff that needs pure sine wave is available with a google: Laser printers,…"
yesterday
Jessica Kleinberg replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"For the pilot I will only be testing a few units. From there, the plan is to scale up and launch a…"
yesterday
Yotam Ariel replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"Hi Jessica, I'm guessing the more pricey inverters are 'pure-sine', and the less…"
yesterday
Stewart Craine replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"Hi Jess,I've use Whistler Pro inveters happily for some running some 1kW flour mills from…"
yesterday
Evan Mills replied to Evan Mills's discussion LuminaNET Weekly Digest
"October 29, 2014 edition posted."
yesterday
Rolland Zhang replied to Jessica Kleinberg's discussion Low-cost inverters for Solar Home System program
"Good job, your sourcing are really ok.  by the way , does the locally made inverters have TUV…"
Monday

© 2014   Created by The Lumina Project.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service