Lighting in the Digital Age

By V.P. Mahendru, Chairman & MD, Eon Electric

V.P. Mahendru, Chairman & MD, Eon Electric

Headquartered in Punjab, Eon Electric is the leading manufacturing and marketing electrical distribution and safety equipment.

Though the modern era has increased the Earth’s carbon trail, digital innovations can play important role through enhanced energy efficiency in lighting and other industries. The advent of the Digital Age has had a tremendous impact on myriad sectors, including the lighting industry. Today, lights are sleeker, safer and more energy efficient, while delivering higher lumens with lowers power consumption. Partly, this transformation can be credited to the introduction of LED (light-emitting diodes) technology.

Besides the above benefits, LEDs are transforming the lighting industry in other ways also such as their long-lasting life. This apart, a fundamental impact occurs in revenue generation. Unlike other forms of light – incandescent bulbs, CFLs, halogen lamps – that require replacement at faster frequencies, LEDs can last for many long years. With revenues from periodic sales ruled out, manufacturers will be required to discover new ways of revenue generation to drive sustainable operations. But that is another point altogether.

Impact of Digital Technology

For the moment, one is concerned with the benefits and impact of digital technology on lighting. Considering their energy efficiency and consequent lower power consumption, LEDs mean lower power bills for users. On the other hand, lower usage also denotes enormous benefit of saving power, not just money. As the nation seeks to meet ambitious targets in varied spheres, including ‘24/7 Power for All’ and other programmes, lower energy usage can contribute immensely for meeting these targets faster.

Thanks to digital technology, it has become possible to miniaturise various parts, including diodes, chips and other key components. Miniaturisation has a cascading effect on cost savings due to lower usage of space as well as faster, more efficient components that deliver more for less.

Concomitantly, efficient use of an important resource such as electricity has a huge impact on the planet by ensuring lower carbon footprints. Consequently, the importance of energy efficiency for the nation and the world at large cannot be overemphasized. With the NDA Government planning to ensure ‘Power for All’ by 2019, energy security tops the agenda. But India can only hope to become energy secure if numerous measures are taken to ramp up usage of energy-efficient LEDs, which will simultaneously reduce total power requirements.

Digital innovations have indeed brought about a dramatic transformation in the lighting industry. Although LED bulbs may seem costlier at the first instance, costs need to be viewed against their long life and long-term performance. For example, LED bulbs can last almost 10 times longer than CFLs, which themselves last much longer than traditional incandescent lamps. Unlike incandescent bulbs, which contain a filament that overheats and can fuse, LED bulbs are free of such wasteful heat generation, thereby boosting their lifespan. Moreover, being solid-state, LED bulbs withstand vibrations, bumps and voltage fluctuations more robustly and continue to illuminate normally in situations where incandescent, tube lights and CFLs fail all too easily.

Backed by these facets of LED bulbs, maintenance is virtually unnecessary or minimal. Additionally, even on a range of voltages between 100 and 400 volts, LED bulbs work smoothly, whereas conventional lights need a standard supply of 240 volts to function without a glitch.

Driving Energy Efficiency

The issue of efficiency needs elaboration to emphasize its true significance. Driven by this efficiency, power-efficient LED bulbs consume barely around 2–17 watts of electricity, which is only one-third to one-thirtieth of the energy used by incandescent bulbs or CFLs. Given such advantages, LED bulbs not only save power but remain cool too while curbing high electricity bills. As periodic replacements are ruled out because LED bulbs last between 30,000 and 40,000 hours, the recurring costs of traditional bulbs are ruled out. The same benefits are available in small LED flashlights, where the battery life is extended by 10 to 15 times compared to tungsten bulbs.

The criticality of digital innovations is accentuated when the link between increasing emissions and resource utilization comes to the fore. Empirical evidence indicates that for every 1 percent rise in global GDP, CO₂ emissions increase by around 0.5 percent. In the long run, this ‘high-growth, high-carbon’ path can create an existential dilemma for modern civilisation: while development is a universal imperative, it’s also important to stop the inexorable rise in global warming, which is threatening to submerge low-lying regions and some coastal nations. Can modern development therefore be sacrificed at the altar of sustainability and for safeguarding the planet?

Clearly, this is not possible because development is an irresistible phenomenon that has gathered its own momentum. Therefore, the way out is via digital innovations and the resultant transformation it unleashes based upon sustainable tools and techniques. Significantly, although modern development has created a carbon-trail crisis that has fuelled climate change, digital innovations have tremendous potential to control, mitigate and reverse this trend in the long run. LEDs – and other similar energy-efficient tools and technologies – are some of the early manifestations of digital solutions that can make the Earth a better place for future generations. 

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