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Lighting constitutes more than 20% of total U.S. electricity consumption, a similar fraction in the European Union, and an even higher fraction in many developing countries. Because many current lighting technologies are highly inefficient, improved technologies for lighting hold great potential for energy savings and for reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions. Solid-state lighting shows great promise as a source of efficient, affordable, color-balanced white light. Indeed, assuming market discount rates, engineering-economic analysis demonstrates that white solid-state lighting already has a lower levelized annual cost (LAC) than incandescent bulbs. The LAC for white solid-state lighting will be lower than that of the most efficient fluorescent bulbs by the end of this decade. However, a large literature indicates that households do not make their decisions in terms of simple expected economic value. After a review of the technology, we compare the electricity consumption, carbon emissions, and cost-effectiveness of current lighting technologies, accounting for expected performance evolution through 2015. We then simulate the lighting electricity consumption and implicit greenhouse gases emissions for the U.S. residential and commercial sectors through 2015 under different policy scenarios: voluntary solid-state lighting adoption, implementation of lighting standards in new construction, and rebate programs or equivalent subsidies. Finally, we provide a measure of cost-effectiveness for solid-state lighting in the context of other climate change abatement policies.
Date of Publication: March 2009