15% of world’s electricity spent on lighting, which could displace 250 coal plants if transitioned to LEDs

Lighting accounts for around 15% of the world’s electricity consumption, more than the combined output of all the planet’s nuclear plants.  That demand is set to rise 50% by 2030 as the world’s population grows, urbanisation increases and 1.2 billion people who currently lack access to energy grids get connected.

Equally though, an overnight transition to LED lighting could save about 735m tonnes of carbon emissions, which is enough to displace nearly 250 coal-fired power plants around the world.  Lighting accounts for around 5% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions currently. What’s more, 1.4 billion people around the world lack access to modern energy services, including reliable lighting, and are instead using energy sources such as kerosene that pose serious environmental and health risks.1  In the off-grid lighting sector, displacing fuel-based light sources like kerosene and candles with solar-powered LED lanterns would save $25 to $33 billion in fuel costs alone.2

Ikea converted its entire lighting range to LEDs in September, and says that it expects its contribution to the project to save enough energy to power half a million homes each year.  LEDs are typically still more than twice the price of their competitors, even if they use 85% less electricity and can last for up to 20 years.

Governments including China, India, the US and companies such as Ikea are backing a plan to have 10bn super efficient light bulbs fitted worldwide to tackle global emissions caused by lighting.  The Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) is launching the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC), a race to reach cumulative global sales of 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality, and affordable lighting products (such as light-emitting diodes – LEDs) as quickly as possible.  By endorsing the GLC, these countries agree to highlight and help accelerate existing national and international efficient lighting adoption activities, and seek supporting actions, consistent with the GLC’s guiding principles, such as promoting super-efficient and high-quality off-grid lighting systems.

The public-private partnership is expected to see India sell 0.8bn LED bulbs by 2019 and China committing to sell 5bn by 2018.  Ikea committed to sell 500m LED bulbs to its customers by 2020.  Industry leaders such as Philips, Osram, Cree and Enervee have also made private commitments to back the blueprint for affordable but climate-friendly illumination.

The US has seen a six-fold increase in LED home lighting in just two years, saving Americans $1.4bn in energy bills last year alone, according to the country’s Department of Energy.

If your organization is interested in making a commitment, please email GLC@cleanenergyministerial.org to inquire about requirements and privileges or visit http://www.globallightingchallenge.org/ to sign up to receive GLC announcements and updates.

1 United Nations Development Programme. “Universal access to modern energy for the poor.” Accessed October 2015.
2 United Nations Environment Programme. Policy Options to Accelerate the Global Transition to Advanced LightingPDF. November 2014.