The US Department of Energy funds a significant amount of research into solid state lighting. A researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is proposing that using LEDs as light sources to replace lanterns and candles can help with pollution, high fuel costs and intermittent availablility of electricity.
It’s not a new idea, but what’s nice is that this article outlines the approach very well, and explains the rationale very thoroughly.
To summarize the article, this is an idea whose time has come because LED technology has recently improved significantly, and because compared to fuel-based lighting, LEDs can be 1000 times as energy efficient, while still cost-effective.
Mills estimates that fuel-based lighting throughout the world consumes 77 billion liters of fuel annually, at a total cost of $38 billion per year, or $77 per household. This, he says, is equivalent to 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, roughly the total oil production of Indonesia, Libya, or Qatar, or half the total oil production of pre-war Iraq.
For right now, in the US, replacing existing lighting with solid-state isn’t a sure bet. But where people rely on a candle or a lantern, this is a technology with tremendous advantages. Even though the article is slightly on the technical side, it’s very much worth a close read.