A fundamental paradigm shift in lighting technologies toward more efficient lamps and bulbs will significantly reduce global electricity demand for general illumination in the next few years, according to IHS Technology (NYSE: IHS).
The energy usage of the installed base of lighting technologies for general illumination will fall to a projected 2.75 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh) by 2020, down a notable 24 percent from 3.61 trillion kWh last year. Overall, the installed base for general lighting—which covers homes, businesses and street lamps but not architectural or theatrical lighting—will account for 10.3 percent of the net electricity generated in 2020, down from 16.4 percent in 2013, as shown in the figure below.
Electricity usage will decline even as the number of lamps increases. The global installed base of lamps is projected to rise to 59.3 billion units in 2020, up from 56.4 billion in 2013.
“The fall in electricity consumed by lighting is being driven by the systematic ban of inefficient—mainly incandescent—lamps and bulbs in countries across the world,” said William Rhodes, lighting research manager for IHS. “As these bans start to kick in, consumers and business owners will be replacing their lamps with more energy-efficient technologies, such as light-emitting diode (LED) alternatives.”
Even so, consumers are not currently flocking to LED in great numbers because of the relatively high pricing involved, Rhodes noted. Instead, shoppers are opting for cheaper options like compact fluorescents (CFL) or halogen lamps.
Most CFL lamps, for instance, consume just 25 percent of the electricity used by an equivalent incandescent lamp but are 87 percent cheaper on average. As a result, CFL lamps provide a suitable energy-saving alternative to consumers without a significant price premium.
For their part, halogen lamps have a similar cost and light compared to incandescent but also consume less electricity, making halogens suitable options as well for consumers in the short to long term.
As pricing falls for LED lamps and bulbs toward the end of this decade, consumers and business owners can be expected to start replacing incandescent, CFL, halogen and other lighting technologies with LED alternatives, even though cost will remain an inhibitor for many years. This will be the case despite average electricity savings of 85 percent for LEDs, Rhodes said.
One factor could reduce the potential savings to be gained. LED’s flexibility could make it more attractive for decorative and architectural applications, including new design possibilities such as under-counter lighting in kitchens or kickboard lighting close to the floor.
Such a shift toward LED decorative lighting could offset some of the energy savings gained by replacing incandescent lamps with LEDs in the first place, Rhodes said in his analysis.