LED Lighting and Economic and Social Development

Polar Ray Admin

Recent research has suggested that with the use of solar powered LED lighting in impoverished regions around the world, economic development could be boosted to the tune of 2 million new jobs produced. This work, produced by lighting researcher, Evan Mills, is the first of a kind worldwide analysis of how job creation and employment might be affected by a move to solar-powered LED lighting. Mils globally.ls has the experience of decades of studying under developed areas where lighting is regularly provided by campfires, torches, candles, and kerosene lanterns for nighttime light. All are quite inefficient for lighting, as well as being dangerous, and in the case of kerosene, expensive.

The research by Mills has been focused on the poorest households in Africa and Asia that have no electrical power. Those households total the poorest 112 million out of approximately 274 million households worldwide that have no electricity. The results could be better than expected if the target group could afford more than the projected basic solar-powered LED light. One LED light! The research did take account of jobs lost due to the transition as well as jobs gained. The jobs lost are not so often taken into serious consideration when speaking of new technology replacing old. In the case of this scenario, it would be the people that sell the fuel that would suffer. The kerosene is a very popular black market item and is smuggled throughout the areas it is needed. It is a dangerous occupation that takes little training except being stealthy and being as careful as possible. Besides the product being toxic, the work often involves child labor and international border crossings, and the fact that shortages and government subsidies moving up and down all combine to provide a very poor livelihood quality.

The research has indicated that many more jobs will be created than lost. The fuel powered lighting market today sustains 150,000 jobs globally, but the LED transition will create better jobs which will be more steady, healthy, legal, and more stable. There will also be encouraging secondary effects.  The fact that the environment will have a chance to improve once the fuel based light is not so greatly relied on as it is today. Business will benefit from being able to do increased business more by being able to remain open after the sun goes down, and children or anyone studying after dark will certainly benefit from the improved environment that the lighting can provide.

In August of 2009 a solar lighting project to help enhance the lives of people in underdeveloped villages was begun. The 1000-Village lighting project was a five-year joint initiative of The Climate Group and the One Foundation of Chinese film star, Jet Li. The goal was to bring solar-powered LED lighting to 1000 villages in China, India and Africa. The Climate Group had already proven how well the solar LED lighting worked in rural areas in China, as it needs no supply cabling. Phillips Lighting was a major participant in the project in that the company donated lighting for the project. In the end, the project, which involved 400 villages in China the first two years and another 600 villages in China, India and Africa in the next three, was a great success that has become just the beginning of the possibilities of such global projects. The end result of the project has provided proof that given the possibility of adapting solar LED lighting, the villages can help reduce global emissions from fuel powered lighting, as it has been calculated that over 1.3 million tons of carbon reductions occurred in the first two years of the program.

The social benefits of the program are numerous but can be summed up by simply saying that the lighting it has provided has increased the quality of life and sense of well-being among the villagers. Some of the improvements indicated by village respondents included things we all take for granted, like, increased safety at night, and some we would normally not consider, such as snakes being among the most feared aspect of the night in some areas.

The project certainly proved that the off-grid solar LED technology is not only a very sustainable difference maker for people in remote and underdeveloped areas that have no electricity, but also very valuable in sunny areas of the globe, as these places get to take advantage of hours of sunlight which supplement the conventional grid power. In addition to all the other positive impacts, the environmental impact is nothing but positive.

 As always, if you have questions in regard to any of your lighting projects, please feel free to call Polar-Ray at 303-494-5773 to speak with a lighting consultant.  Thank you for perusing our website.