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: 210

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

Mitra Ardron replied to Evan Mills's discussion Lighting Global Expanding Scope to Support Solar Home System Kits
"My problem is the assumption  that the benefits of the respected reputation, expertise, and…"
18 hours ago
Hans Mutzbauer replied to Evan Mills's discussion Lighting Global Expanding Scope to Support Solar Home System Kits
"Hi Meg, despite all of our discussions and differences, I appreciate, and admire the way how you…"
22 hours ago
Matthew Jordan was featured
yesterday
Rolland Zhang replied to Kat Harrison's discussion SolarAid release Guide on new solar light distribution model
"Yes, but it  can not last long time.  Alibaba use the people who live in his business…"
yesterday
Meg Harper replied to Evan Mills's discussion Lighting Global Expanding Scope to Support Solar Home System Kits
"Hi all, Thanks for your additional feedback on the issue of institutionalizing the test methods…"
yesterday
Matthew Jordan posted a discussion

Global LEAP Seeking Market Researcher(s) for Off-Grid Appliance Market Project

Dear LuminaNet colleagues,As part of its mission to catalyze and support commercial markets that…See More
Friday
Hans Mutzbauer replied to Kat Harrison's discussion SolarAid release Guide on new solar light distribution model
"Interesting approach, thank you."
Friday
Kat Harrison replied to Kat Harrison's discussion SolarAid release Guide on new solar light distribution model
"Hi Hans, Thanks for the question. Yes, the lights were donated, but donated to the Ministry of…"
Friday
Hans Mutzbauer replied to Kat Harrison's discussion SolarAid release Guide on new solar light distribution model
"Thank you Kat for this interesting information. Do I understand this right - the solar lights were…"
Friday
Kat Harrison posted a discussion
Friday
Rolland Zhang replied to Rolland Zhang's discussion Cheap solar product: 15Wp solar system=USD34.
"More detail:  the bulbs is 3pcs, not only 2pcs.  price is USD34.  MOQ:…"
Friday
Rolland Zhang replied to Rolland Zhang's discussion Cheap solar product: 15Wp solar system=USD34.
"He"
Friday

© 2014   Created by The Lumina Project.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service