LED Poised To Light Up The World: Study

In the next decade, LED lights will capture more than half of the world's demand for new lighting, the author of a study on green economic opportunities said last night at a University of Chicago forum.
Robert Weissbourd, the president of RW-Ventures, was studying economic development in the Chicago region when he and other authors of "The Chicago Region's Green Economic Opportunities" (pdf) realized the potential of LED lighting.
"It took us by surprise," he told about 60 people assembled at the university's downtown Gleacher Center for a forum on the Midwest Green Economy.
"It's projected that the shift to LED lighting is going to be huge. It's going to capture 60 percent of the market globally in the next ten years."
That shift will be motivated not only by a global response to climate change, but especially by the economic benefits of LED lights.
"They're clearly a superior product," Weissbourd said, "but not yet market accepted."
That slow acceptance derives, in part, from higher initial cost. An LED "bulb" costs $35, compared to $1.25 for an incandescent bulb or $3.95 for a compact fluorescent that illuminates at the same brightness.
But that LED light will cost only $95.95 to operate for the next 50,000 hours, compared to $652.50 for the incandescent and $159.75 for the CFL.
The economics of LED lights are so favorable that as market acceptance develops, and as start-up costs drop, building owners will be able to shift to LED lighting without requiring much, if any, financial assistance, he said.
Within the next five years, Weissbourd predicted, opportunities will flourish for companies that can replace a building's existing lighting systems with LED systems.
"We were joking about finding that company and investing in it," he said.
The study team was seeking a product or industry to serve as an example in its study of green opportunities in the Chicago region. It settled on lighting because of an abundance of lighting manufacturers in Chicago, one of a few advantages the city holds over other regions.
"Whether we can compete in the green economy depends on whether we have companies that can redeploy their assets into it," Weissbourd said.
The light bulb market is dominated by a small number of manufacturers, including Sylvania, Philips and GE. Those companies offer LED lighting but have not promoted it. Weissbourd compared them to Kodak, which he said invented the digital camera, then shelved it to avoid competing with its more traditional products. Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Jan. 19.
Thursday night's forum was sponsored by The University of Chicago and The Delta Institute, a non-governmental organization that promotes clean energy. Delta Institute President Jean Pogge called this study "the first major cluster analysis of Chicago's green economy," and said its findings were presented for the first time in public at Thursday's forum.

Tip Jar: If you found value on this page, please consider tipping the author.