We have now reached a tipping point in the development of high quality light emitting diodes (LEDs) whereby this exciting new technology can now be used for general lighting in almost all applications. This is good news for Africa and its people, because quality LEDs offer solutions to some of the key issues and opportunities we face today – the national energy crisis, resource scarcity, safety in our cities, climate change, productivity in our offices, and an enhanced sense of health and well-being to name but a few. In addition to these benefits, LED technology, when combined with the latest solar and battery developments can also provide practical light for more than 500 million people in Africa who currently live without electricity.
The benefits of LED technology are of course derived from the extraordinary characteristics of good quality LEDs. Today LED lighting can deliver very high energy efficiency, a long lifetime reducing the need for maintenance and additional costs, and lastly excellent quality of light, design flexibility, controllability and colour – all of which are essential to creating solutions which will improve lighting.
The world’s lighting markets are now embracing the new technology. Philips, the world’s leading lighting company, predicts that by 2020 about 75% of the global lighting market value will be LED based, a figure derived from both current sales data and its thoughts on future trends. Disappointingly, this still leaves a huge installed base of much older less efficient lighting solutions which are a considerable and unnecessary drain on our already strained national resources.
The compelling facts and figures supporting a rapid switch to LED lighting are these;
- Lighting currently consumes an average of 19% of global electricity production and the great majority of this current lighting is based on older less efficient technologies developed before 1970.
- A full switch to the latest LED lighting would provide very significant energy savings of up to 80% in many applications and an average of 40% for all lighting.
- For Africa this equates to approx 10 billion US Dollars per year in running costs, or 50 million tonnes of carbon or the equivalent output of 35 medium sized power plants. In most cases it is a simple switch to make and it should also be noted that more than three quarters of all lighting is in the commercial and industrial world rather than the home.
Many global initiatives are currently being taken by companies, governments and NGO’s to speed up the rate of switch. The rate of adoption of LED lighting will also depend on other factors such as further cost price reductions, the speed of investment and basically how persuasive, the industry leaders in the lighting trade are in creating awareness and getting the world to switch.
There is a cool, almost magical feel to quality LED solutions – tests have shown that people prefer the quality light. This lighting also represents the digital 21st century and will play a significant role in helping to solve some of the key issues and opportunities we face today.