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LED’s Lighting a New Path for Future Sustainability: Part One

3 min

Introduction

With lighting accounting for 15% of global energy usage and nearly 5% of global CO2 emissions, efficient lighting technologies such as Light Emitting Diode (LED globes) have now been moved into the limelight as an essential technology to move the world closer to net-zero – one globe at a time.

In this blog series, C-Quest Capital deep dives into its latest carbon reduction project providing millions of low-income Indian rural families with high-quality, reliable and long-life LED globes to replace inefficient incandescent lightbulbs. Part one of this series explores the need to replace outdated incandescent light bulbs for the rural poor in India and why LED globes are an ideal solution at many levels.

The Issue

For many people living in rural areas of India, lighting is often provided from a small number (often one or two) incandescent light bulbs (ICL) per household.

While relatively cheap to purchase, incandescent bulbs are an outdated and inefficient light source/technology with only 10% of the energy used to generate visible light and the remaining 90% generating heat. This high energy usage also translates to expensive energy bills for struggling households dedicating 10% of a typical electricity bill to lighting alone.

Low income, rural households in India must also grapple with voltage swings from an unreliable power grid that reduces the amount of light produced by each globe as well as potentially blowing a globe when power spikes do occur.

Electrification of the grid is typically through thermal power plants (TPP) with the vast majority being coal based. The demands that ICLs place on the electricity grid is especially significant during peak hours and have often led to power shortages placing further pressure for the need for more power generation leading to worse environmental outcomes.

Enter the LED bulb.

LEDs or Light Emitting Diode have been available for over a decade, however recent improvements in manufacturing have bought costs down closer to traditional light incandescent light bulbs.

LED’s use a fraction of energy compared to their incandescent counterparts and are free from toxic gases such as mercury that are required for compact florescence (CFL) bulbs. They simultaneously produce higher-quality light and less heat than incandescent globes. This results in lower energy bills and decreased need for cooling in warmer climates, especially important in places like India.

The typical lifespan of a LED globe is rated at approximately 25,000 hours compared to the 750 of ICLs meaning that they typically do not need to be replaced for over a decade. It is estimated that one LED globe could replace between 10-20 ICL’s over its lifespan, representing further savings.

It is very important to have good light. You can do everything when there is light. Without light, you won’t be able to do anything. We cook in the kitchen when there is light we can wash clothes, and we can study. Light is essential.

Nidhi, Uttar Pradesh, India (Beneficiary)

Small Changes, Big Results

Cumulatively, LED lighting gives poorer households the added health benefit of reduced eye strain and provides greater economic opportunities to families as people can work and study longer with access to more time under quality lighting when natural light isn’t available. It is also estimated that a typical Indian household can save up to 10-20% of their disposal income from the adoption of LED lighting further providing economic opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available.

The simple yet powerful act of switching incandescent lighting for LED bulbs can improve the living and working conditions of millions of people in rural India and help the country reduce its power consumption (especially at peak periods) and carbon emissions. Reductions in load demand of India’s electricity grid through the switch to efficient LED bulbs, reducing the amount of coal being burned for power generation, and the amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere.

In part two, we will explore C-Quest Capital’s Efficient Lighting program how it it’s already making lives better.

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