Next generation of LED lights, 2x as efficient as fluorescentsLighting represents a big chunk of electricity consumption (around 1/5), so finding more efficient ways to produce light has huge potential to help the environment. Fluorescents, and then compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), were a huge step in the right direction compared to the energy-hogs that are incandescents. But fluorescents also have their downsides, and their efficiency at converting electricity into visible light isn't optimal by any means. Right now, it looks like the future belongs to LEDs, but while some extremely efficient LEDs have been produced in the lab, the commercial kind has been mostly similar to fluorescents, making their longevity and safety their mains selling point.
That might be about to change. Philips has announced that it has made a high-efficiency warm white LED tube-lamp that could replace the fluorescent tubes that represent more than half of the world's total lighting. While most linear fluorescents get around 100 lumens per watt, this new LED model achieves an impressive 200 lumens/watt while meeting the criteria required for comfortable workplace lighting (ie. a color temperature of 3000–4000 kelvins, a color rendering index of at least 80, and an R9 saturated red level of no less than 20). That's not the same as having a super-efficient LED that produces horrible light quality for the sake of breaking records. And because these are twice as efficient as most fluorescents, the potential energy savings are huuuge.
In the US alone, for example, fluorescent lights consume around 200 terawatts of electricity annually. If these lights were all replaced with 200lm/W TLEDs, the US would use around 100 terawatts less energy (equivalent to 50 medium sized power plants) saving more than US$12 billion and preventing around 60 million metric tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
(I think they might have meant "terawatt-hours", but in any case, the equivalent of 50 power plants in just one country gives you an idea of the scale of the opportunity.)
Philips has made a little video about it:
Not just a lab project, they're commercializing thisThis tube LED lamp is expected to hit the market in 2015 for office and industry applications, and then the technology will be adapted to home use (which would mean that a 60-watt incandescent equivalent LED would use about 5 watts). So we'll have to wait a bit, but it's great to see this coming through the pipeline... .