LEDs (light-emitting diodes) - semiconductors that convert electricity into light - can help India conserve energy and considerably reduce its electricity bills, an international expert says.
"LEDs are 10 times more efficient than filament bulbs and twice as efficient as fluorescent lamps," explained N Narendran, associate professor and director of research at New York's Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Centre (LRC).
"Filament bulbs waste 95 per cent of the energy they consume as heat. Against this, fluorescent lamps are 30 per cent efficient. If you consider that India uses 17 per cent of its energy on lighting, you can well imagine the savings that will be effected," the Sri Lanka-born Narendran told IANS in an interview.
Narendran, who has a doctorate in physics from the University of Rhode Island, was here for a meeting with the Indian Society of Lighting Engineers (ISLE) on promoting LEDs as an alternative source of lighting. He also delivered a lecture here on "The Promises and Challenges of LEDs" that was chaired by Ajay Mathur, director general of the Indian government's Bureau of Energy Efficiency.
The savings apart, LEDs would also contribute to conserving the environment, Narendran pointed out.
"LEDs have an extremely long life of 100,000 hours plus, which means there is virtually no replacement. Therefore, there is none of the waste generated from discarded filament and fluorescent lamps," he said.
Once used just as indicator lights for electronics, LEDs have evolved into a major lighting technology that may change the future of general illumination.
LEDs are highly regarded for their long life, energy efficiency, non-toxicity, durability and flexibility.
Towards this end, LRC's Solid-State Lighting Programne team conducts research and educational programmes to enhance LED technology and overcome barriers, and to help it to gain acceptance for general illumination purposes.
In 2002, LRC established ASSIST (Alliance for Solid-State Illumination Systems and Technologies) to advance the effective use of energy-efficient solid-state lighting and to speed its market acceptance.
ASSIST aims to identify and reduce the major technical hurdles currently facing solid-state lighting.
Just how far the technology has advanced can be gauged from the fact that the interiors of the Boeing-787 Dreamliner, which is scheduled for its rollout later this year, will be lit up entirely through LEDs. Also, the headlights of the upcoming model of the Lexus luxury sedan will be powered by LEDs.
And US retail major WalMart has ruled that from 2008, all its deep freezers in the US and worldwide will be lit up with LEDs.
According to Narendran, the Indian government was aware of the benefits of LEDs and had permitted their duty-free import.
"Since the technology comes from electronics, the lighting industry here remains sceptical. Thus, while there have been rapid developments in areas like cell phones, the lighting industry here has moved at a snail's pace.
"What we need to do now is to get the industry to work together with the technologists to promote the use of LEDs," Narendran said, adding that he saw the possibility of ISLE and ASSIST collaborating in this.