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: 236

Comment

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

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

Evan Mills posted a video

Solar Powered Agro-Processing Machines - www.psspng.com

This short video demonstrates some of the solar powered agricultural machines that we have developed. All the machines are powered by 24V DC motors and every...
Jun 6
Evan Mills replied to Shuangyi Qian's discussion Country Data: Rwanda
"Useful data in this report for…"
May 23
Evan Mills replied to Evan Mills's discussion Country Data: Methodology
"Lots of useful data in this IFC report for India, Bangladesh, nepal, pakistan, indonesia,…"
May 22
Evan Mills replied to Evan Mills's discussion Country Data: Methodology
"The attached new report contains interesting multi-year data on lighting fuel choices for multiple…"
May 21
iboxs Technologies( UK) updated their profile
Mar 5
iboxs Technologies( UK) replied to Evan Mills's discussion Field Projects: Africa
"Project : Lighting West Africa Dates: 27 Feb 2016 Location : Benin CEO : Captain Jon Organisation :…"
Mar 5
Sowmya Suryanarayanan joined Evan Mills's group
Thumbnail

Pay-As-You-Go strategies

This group is for discussion of innovative approaches to financing off-grid lighting products. A…See More
Mar 1
Sowmya Suryanarayanan commented on Sowmya Suryanarayanan's blog post REACHING THE BOP: MICRO-GRID PAYMENT AND METERING SOLUTIONS – PART II
"Thanks Sridhar. Glad you found the piece informative."
Mar 1
Drew Corbyn joined Evan Mills's group
Thumbnail

Job Notices

Post information here on jobs available or soughtSee More
Feb 16
Aaron Wong joined Evan Mills's group
Thumbnail

Products

Post information here about specific productsSee More
Jan 24
Patrick Velasco updated an event
Thumbnail

3rd Africa Mini Grids Summit 2016 at Nairobi, Kenya

November 16, 2016 to November 18, 2016
The Only Authoritative Platform to Meet Relevant Industry Stakeholders and Deep Dive into Issues…See More
Jan 20
Aaron Wong replied to Evan Mills's discussion Field Projects: Africa
"Hi Yoseph, it looks good, how about the quality of the solar lamp?"
Jan 13

© 2016   Created by The Lumina Project.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service