Strange as it may seem to regular readers, way back at the start in 2008, I had interests other than shale. A key point I've always made is that the alleged energy crisis simply wasn't going to happen: Technology and efficiency would stop the inexorable march to a coal choked expensive world. In short, human beings do some incredibly dumb things, but we're not as stupid as people who are trying to sell high priced solutions to often manufactured problems make out.

A key interest back then was yet another game changer: LED lighting.This update from The Climate Group, HSBC and Phllips sheds some light on how the future is not what it used to be.  It's actually quite bright. Phillips may make some money from this but put the energy used in lighting in context and the future not only looks less dark, it looks cleaner and cheaper. Best of all, it looks really cool too.

A quick definition:

LEDs are bringing a lighting revolution to our cities not seen since the days of Thomas Edison. The quantum dynamics that create light in the LED semiconductor represent as much of a technology step change as the move from candles to incandescent lamps in the 19th century. 


Efficiency. Energy savings from 50% to 70% compared with conventional technologies result in similar cuts to carbon emissions. 

Controllability. Superior control over light color, intensity and direction allows novel lighting system designs that can deliver a wide range of social co-benefits. Outdoor LEDs offer improved visibility for pedestrians and traffic, as well as reduced light pollution. Indoor LED smart control systems have been shown to improve student behavior and study performance. And when smart controls allow LEDs to dynamically change lighting levels in response to conditions, total system energy savings can reach up to 80%. 

Lifespan. Well-designed LEDs are expected to last for 50,000 to 100,000 hours or more. Lifespans can be extended even further by coupling LEDs with smart controls. 

The report concentrates on street lighting,  a massive energy consumer responsible for up to three percent of world electricity demand, but including total lighting demand, the strategic implications are significant:

The numbers are big. Lighting worldwide accounted for 19% of grid-connected electricity generation and 9% of global energy use in 2006. The 6% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions attributed to lighting is equivalent to 70% of the emissions from the world’s passenger vehicles.In the United States alone, cutting the energy used by lighting by 40% would save US$53 billion in annual energy costs, and reduce energy demand equivalent to 198 mid-size power stations

Another example of good news that no one hears about. A constant refrain from shale opponents is that we should be using less energy, not more, but that ignores the fact that we are using less energy. In the UK for example in 2011 we used 198 Million Tons of Oil Equivalent, less than the 211.9 average since 1965 and apart from 1981/84  the lowest energy use since 1967. So much for the constantly rising energy demand theory. The figures BTW are from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2011.

The good news we're not hearing is that energy use is falling significantly based on both per capita and per unit of GDP terms. But who can make any money telling people good news? An even smaller number than the amount of journalists who print good news instead of seeking  the gloom their readers allegedly want to read.

As with shale, the news on energy efficiency is becoming so counter to public perception that people may actually want to hear something novel: good news for a change, especially when the good news, unlike much of the bad, has some grounding in reality.

Add comment

Security code