Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were initially invented in 1994 as high-brightness, high-efficiency light bulbs. LEDs work like solar panels in reverse, converting electrons to photons instead of the other way around. LEDs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs for the same amount of light, and half as much as compact fluorescents. While other lighting technologies convert energy into heat (and wasting most of it), LEDs turn 80% of energy into light.
Environmental advantages of LED lighting are many. Its efficiency in converting energy into light, rather than heat, helps reduce electricity consumption and air-conditioning loads. For people without access to ample energy, LEDs can be powered with small solar cells and can replace expensive kerosene lamps and their noxious fumes and emissions. Where LEDs are installed in streetlights, they can save up to 70% of energy and significantly reduce maintenance costs.
Project Drawdown projects that if LED lighting becomes widely used in the residential and commercial lighting market, it can help avoid between 10.2-10.8 gigatons of CO2 emissions in residential, and between 5.9 - 6.7 gigatons in commercial buildings. To achieve this, the global market share of LEDs needs to scale rapidly:
- <::marker> In 2018, LEDs comprised 3% of the total commercial lighting market and 2% of the residential lighting market
- <::marker> By 2050, LEDs should account for 95% and 90% of the residential and commercial markets, respectively
- <::marker> That’s 12.82% CAGR for residential LED, and 11.21% CAGR for commercial LED lighting between 2018 - 2050.