Earth Day 2013 – How Green is LED Lighting?

Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated in the US to spotlight environmental responsibility.  Earth Day is today (April 22) and in celebration of Earth Day 2013, we’ve put together some information from the Department of Energy about the environmental benefits of LED lighting.  The DOE is under mandate from Congress to accelerate Solid State Lighting (SSL is another name for LED lighting).  With more than 80% of LEDs based on sapphire substrates, this is good news for the sapphire industry.

SSL is rapidly undergoing improvements to technology and pricing (see Tipping Point 2: Finally, A Sub $10 LED Light Bulb) and has superior energy efficiency.  The DOE estimates that, over the next two decades, it could save the country $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption used by lighting by nearly one half, and avoid 1,800 metric tons in carbon emissions.

From the graphic below, from the DOE’s recent report, Energy Savings Potential of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications, you can see how each sector will contribute to the energy savings due to lighting.  The graphic is illuminating on two fronts.  First, there’s a 19% savings in 2020, but there’s a 46% savings in 2030.  Second, residential lighting and commercial lighting that’s lighting interiors of business, government and other organizations, show the greatest potential for savings. For example, the commercial sector contributed 60% of lighting electrical service in 2010, but by 2030, the DOE expects energy savings potential to be 35%.  You can find the discussion about it and a larger image online here.

Forecasted US Lighting Energy Consumption and Savings, 2010 to 2030







For Further Reading

Department of Energy, Energy Savings Potential of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications,

US DOE, SSL Lighting Basics,

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About Beth

It seems like LEDs are in everything these days – backlighting everything from your mobile phone, Apple iPad and flat screen HDTV to traffic lights, light bulbs and even the kitchen sink. But, making LEDs is a complex process that begins with the creation of sapphire. Not the pretty blue gemstone, but large commercial crystals that can weigh as much as 400 lbs. Once these large sapphire crystals are grown into boules and cooled, they’re cut into cores, cut further into flat circular wafers, polished and then used to grow LEDs. About 85 percent of HB-LEDs (high brightness) are grown on sapphire. There’s not that much information out there about the process. This blog is meant to shed some light (excuse the pun) on sapphire, LEDs and the industry that is devoted to making our lives just a little brighter. In the months ahead, we’ll tackle some topics that will help you understand a little more about sapphire and LED industry. Here’s a sample of what we’ll cover in the coming months: • Growing sapphire • For a wafer, size matters • Quality - When sapphire wafers go bad • LED light bulbs • Market & myths • Interviews with industry shining stars • Reports from industry events • Current events in perspective Please join us each week to learn more about sapphire and the LED market. We look forward to seeing you.

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