The Path to Drawdown: LEDs
Invented in 1994, Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) were designed as high-brightness, high-efficiency light bulbs. LEDs function like solar panels in reverse, converting electrons to photons instead of the other way around. For the same amount of light, LEDs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and half as much as compact fluorescents. LEDs turn 80% of their energy use into light while other lighting types convert energy into heat (and wasting most of it).
There are many ecological advantages to LEDs. Their efficiency in converting energy into light, rather than heat, helps reduce electricity consumption and air-conditioning needs. For people without access to ample energy, LEDs can be used 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 incorporated in the residential and commercial lighting market, it can help avoid between 10.2 - 10.8 gigatons of CO2 emissions in residences, and between 5.9 - 6.7 gigatons in commercial buildings. To achieve this, the global share of LEDs needs to increase rapidly:
- In 2018, LEDs accounted for 3% of the total commercial lighting market and 2% of the residential lighting market
- By 2050, LEDs should comprise 95% and 90% of the residential and commercial markets, respectively
- That’s 12.82% CAGR for residential LED, and 11.21% CAGR for commercial LED lighting between 2018 - 2050.
Veeco Instruments, Inc. (stock ticker: VECO) is a global capital equipment supplier that designs and builds processing systems used to manufacture high-tech microelectronics devices. These devices are used for LED lighting, communication networks, data storage, advanced computing and mobile devices, and in emerging applications like artificial intelligence, machine learning and 5G.
VECO's Role in Drawdown
Veeco’s process equipment systems are used in the production of a broad range of microelectronic components, including micro-LEDs, thin film magnetic heads, and other semiconductor devices.
Out of the five major market sectors that Veeco sells to, thor micro-LEDs are mostly utilized in the compound semiconductor sector (p. 6). This sector includes photonics, power electronics, RF filters and amplifiers, and solar applications. Micro-LED display is a new approach which uses an array of red, blue, and green micro-LEDs to directly display an image without motion blur or image retention, and with improved brightness, darker blacks, and wider viewing angles.
Veeco’s overall net sales have grown by 6.44% since 2016.
VECO: What We Like
Veco is working to reduce (p. 13) their use of natural gas for their office, production and R&D activities:
- In 2018, ~30% of their electric energy consumption was powered by renewable sources
- They installed LED lighting at their facilities to create more sustainable offices
- They eventually plan to set a target to increase the share of their renewable energy consumption from the 2018 baseline. No target has been set yet.