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The Future of Lighting: LED

Author: Date:2011-3-12 10:50:34

Light-emitting diodes, more commonly known as LEDs, were invented early in the 20th century, though it wasn't until the 1960's that the technology had matured enough to become practical and the patents started flying. Now, LEDs are poised to become a dominant source of our lighting in the future.

Why? Consider for a moment the problem of powering the world - and the problems caused by global warming from greenhouse gas emissions. About 20% of all electricity is used for lighting. To drive home the point, your laptop may use about a quarter the power of a 60 watt light bulb, when your laptop is on and the screen is lit.

Still listening? In the 1990's, several breakthroughs in LED (and OLED - organic LED) technology energized the field. Suddenly, bright red, green, and blue LEDs were available. Combine these colors in the right proportions and you get - that's right - white light. Therefore, LEDs can be used for conventional lighting.

Although a LED light costs more than a conventional incandescent light bulb to buy, the energy savings and longevity of LED lighting trounce incandescent and halogen lighting. It's expected that the manufacturing costs of "white" LED lights will fall substantially in the future, making the initial expense a moot point.

If LED lighting is aggressively adopted, then by the year 2020, electricity used for lighting could be cut by 50%. This would make for a 10% reduction in overall electricity usage, reducing the global carbon emissions by 28 million metric tons, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.

LEDs have another hurdle to pass, however. Fluorescent lights are tough to beat, in terms of lumens per watt of power. There's a good chance that LEDs will be able to beat the efficiency of fluorescent lighting with a bit of R&D. Alternatively, LEDs could beat fluorescent lighting on the battlefield of public acceptance. Who really likes fluorescent lights, anyway?

One company in the LED lighting game is BST LED Lighting , You might have already seen one of their products : they built the ball that dropped in Times Square on New Year's Eve 2008.

Lighting Science Group is also one of the consultants for a project in Sacramento, California, to light up a 25 story office tower with an artist's vision of a stream flowing across the building, using mirrored LED panels controlled by software.

On January 28, 2008, Lighting Science Group effected a 1-for-20 reverse split of its stock, driving up the price from $0.46 to $9.25 a share. But they don't fool us. They'll always be a penny stock to Hotstocked.com.

Today, Lighting Science Group stock, LSCG, is off to a rough start, down over 4% to $9.60 at the time this article was published. For the sake of the planet, let's hope the company has a brighter future.