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Asia

LED Lights to Revolutionise India

There are millions of people all over the developing world who are still not connected to the power grid and have to live without electricity. A Light Emitting Diode-based lighting system now promises to bring light to remote and dark corners of the planet.

LED lights of various colours

LED lights of various colours

60 years after Independence in India, there are over 100,000 villages still not connected to the power grid. As soon as night falls, life almost comes to a halt in these villages. Children can barely study in the light of the cooking fire, and the elders manage their chores in the bleak light of kerosene lamps.

Nearly 80 million Indians use kerosene as their primary lighting media. The fuel is dangerous, dirty, and - despite being subsidized -- consumes nearly 4 percent of a typical rural household's budget. A report by the Intermediate Technology Development Group suggests that indoor air pollution from such lighting media results in 1.6 million deaths world-wide every year.

But now, a revolutionary movement has begun to light up dark villages in developing countries all over the world -- Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are an inexpensive light source, which can be powered entirely by solar energy.

More efficient than an incandescent bulb

Compared to an ordinary incandescent light bulb, LEDs are cheaper, consume less power, and run for much longer.

While an incandescent bulb runs for about six to seven hundred hours, an LED lamp can last for a whopping ten thousand hours.

Dave Irvine Halliday founded the Light Up the World Foundation in Canada in 1997. The foundation has used LED technology to bring light to nearly 10,000 homes in the remote and disadvantaged corners of over forty countries, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.

"The major difference between the incandescent bulb and LEDs lies in its efficiency predominantly. That of a bulb is approximately 5% -- even though it gives out a great deal of light, it also consumes a lot of energy. Whereas LEDs are literally 15 to 20 times more efficient. Also, LEDs last literally for decades and they are virtually unbreakable," Halliday said comparing LED technology with an ordinary incandescent bulb.

"There's no question, this is the lighting of the third millennium -- for the whole world, not just the developing world."

LED lamps are believed to produce nearly 200 times more useful light than a kerosene lamp and almost 50 times the amount of useful light of a conventional bulb.

LEDs need government impetus

But in order to make LED lamps more accessible to all, the prices of LEDs -- which are most commonly imported from China -- need to be brought down, experts say. Rural markets would be able to afford it, says Halliday, if people had access to micro-credit and governments were more supportive:

"We really need governments to come on board to push this technology as this is the only kind of lighting technology that will aid one-third of humanity not connected to the power grid," he said. "It is the only way they are going to get safe, healthy, and affordable electric lighting."

Experts claim that if LEDs are pushed by governments across the world, the clean, non-polluting revolutionary technology could solve the planet?s energy crisis.

  • Date 15.02.2008
  • Author Anuj Chopra
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrzR
  • Date 15.02.2008
  • Author Anuj Chopra
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/LrzR