ECE Back to Basics: Energy Efficiency: the Transition to Solid State Lighting

May 5th, 2010
Inês Lima Azevedo, Carnegie Mellon University, Dep. Eng. and Public Policy
Place: Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto

Back to Basics is an international colloquium on fundamental tools for research in Electrical and Computer Engineering, held weekly at FEUP, the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (UPorto).

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.

Short bio
Azevedo’s research interests lie at the intersection of environmental, technical, and economic issues, such as how to address the challenge of climate change and to move towards a more sustainable energy system. She tackles complex problems in which traditional engineering plays an important role but cannot provide a complete answer. In particular, she has been looking at how energy systems are likely to be shaped in the future, which requires comprehensive knowledge not only of the technologies that can address future energy needs but also of the decision-making process followed by different agents in the economy. Azevedo has also been working on assessing how specific policies will shape future energy systems, especially in a carbon-constrained world.

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