Tag Archives: LEDs

‘Just The Tip
 Of The Iceberg’–
 DOE LED Update

The LED revolution is in full swing: DOE’s latest market data show that the number of installed light emitting diodes almost doubled in just a year, climbing from 215 million at the end of 2014 to 424 million by the end of 2015, while cutting energy consumption by 280 trillion British thermal units (compared to 143 trillion Btu a year ago). This is still a relatively small amount—overall the U.S. consumed 97.8 quadrillion Btus in 2015, of which about 5.8 quads were for lighting—but DOE says it “is just the tip of the iceberg.”

That has got to strike terror in the hearts of electric utility executives everywhere. Already starved for growth—overall retail sales of electricity in the U.S. in 2015 totaled just over 3.7 trillion kilowatt-hours (kwh), essentially unchanged from 2007—utilities are now seeing real erosion in lighting-related demand, erosion that could turn into a landslide in the next 5-10 years and beyond.

Continue reading ‘Just The Tip
 Of The Iceberg’–
 DOE LED Update

1st Quarter LED Sales
 Top 25% Of Market,
 More Growth To Come

I don’t normally write short pieces—it’s bad for the search algorithms and such—but I couldn’t resist with a May 16 press release from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, which demonstrates in just two paragraphs and accompanying graphics how completely (and quickly) the lighting market is changing in the United States.

According to NEMA, sales of so-called A-line LED lamps (the screw-in kind that dominate the residential lighting market) soared 375.9 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier—topping 25 percent of sales for the first time. Just five years ago (as is clear in the graphics below), LED A-line lamps essentially had zero market share while incandescent bulbs still accounted for more than 70 percent of all residential lighting sales (a figure that has plummeted to just over 8 percent currently).

LED1stQ2016-NEMA

  Source: NEMA

Commenting on the association’s findings, Kevin Cosgriff, NEMA president and CEO, said, “The speed with which prices for common LED bulbs have declined and the corresponding consumer acceptance of this technology have exceeded manufacturers’ expectations.”  If you ask me, this would have been the perfect time, perhaps the only time, to say that this is change (I have to say it) at the speed of light.

Cosgriff added that based on current trends, NEMA expects LEDs “to replace most general-service CFL and halogen bulbs in the coming years.”

If that holds true, there is a lot of growth on the near-term horizon. In its last report on the market (a 2015 study tracking LED sales through 2014, which can be found here) DOE reported that there were approximately 3.27 billion A-type lamps installed throughout the U.S.; of this total, just 77.7 million were LEDs. DOE pegged savings in 2014 from the installed LEDs at 17.6 trillion British thermal units, and estimated that if all the A-type lamps in the U.S. were converted to LEDs it could save 525 trillion Btus, or 51 terrawatt-hours (twh) of site electricity each year.

LED sales may not continue their torrid recent pace, but there is no doubt that the long-term savings from these and other more efficient lighting options are going to be substantial. In the early version of its 2016 Annual Energy Outlook released this week (more on that in a subsequent post, but the document can be found here), DOE estimates that residential lighting demand will drop from just under 147 billion kwh in 2015 to roughly 88 billion kwh in 20301—a 40 percent decline even though it expects the number of households in the U.S. to climb from 115 million to 131 million during the same period.

Perhaps it is time to invest in a portfolio of LED manufacturers.

–Dennis Wamsted

1DOE estimates consumption in quads (quadrillion Btus), the conversion to kilowatt-hours was done here.

 

Rare Good News
 On Electric Demand
 Comes With A Catch

Good news can be hard to come by in the electric utility industry these days—overall growth is stagnant, new technologies and competitors are aching to get into the market, and customers are beginning to act like, get this, customers, seeking something more than just a monthly bill from their provider. So a report showing soaring growth anywhere in the sector should be a cause for celebration—except, of course, when it includes its own version of a self-destruct mechanism.

The report in question is EIA’s recently released commercial buildings energy consumption survey (CBECS), a treasure trove of data, somewhat dated to be sure, but compelling all the same.  The occasional report—it has been released nine times since 1979—estimates that electricity use in commercial buildings totaled 4,241 trillion Btu in 2012 and accounts for more than 60 percent of the sector’s total energy consumption. While EIA touts the fact that electricity consumption in commercial buildings has almost doubled since it began tracking usage in 1979, the real newsworthy growth has occurred since 1995. Since then, consumption of electricity in commercial buildings has risen by roughly 50 percent, from around 2,750 trillion Btu to 2012’s 4,200-plus level. That 50 percent-plus rise in 17 years amounts to more than 3 percent annually—a level of demand growth that would thrill today’s growth-starved utility executives.

But there is a catch, which I’ll get to in a minute.

Continue reading Rare Good News
 On Electric Demand
 Comes With A Catch

LEDs Clobber CFLs;
 Turn Indoor Farming
 Into New Growth Market

The two events had nothing to do with one another, and yet they are inextricably linked. I am an inveterate coupon clipper and in the latest mailer from BJ’s Wholesale Club (my big box savings store of choice) I noticed an eye-popping deal on LEDs—8 60 watt-equivalent bulbs from Sylvania for $19.99, or roughly $2.50 apiece. The next day, GE announced that it planned to stop manufacturing compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and focus instead on LEDs.

The market never really took to CFLs, for understandable reasons noted in my household as well: Most of them could not be used with dimmer switches, they generally took a long time to “warm up” to their claimed light output and the light itself was harsh, like the traditional tubular fluorescents that CFLs evolved from and not the soft light of old-style incandescent bulbs. Still, they were significantly more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and sales climbed steadily. According to DOE data (see chart below), by 2014, just two years after federal rules took effect that essentially served as the death knell for incandescent bulbs, CFLs accounted for 46 percent of all installed A-type lamps (the screw-in variety that make up the bulk of installed residential lighting). But that clearly was the high-water mark for the twisted CFL.

DOELEDGraphic2015

Continue reading LEDs Clobber CFLs;
 Turn Indoor Farming
 Into New Growth Market

215 Million And Rising:
 Surge In LED Installs
 Is A Growing Threat
 To Utility Industry

The cumulative number of light emitting diodes (LEDs) installed across the United States has soared during the past two years—topping 215 million at the end of 2014 according to DOE’s latest data. That’s good for the environment (the amount of source energy needed to power the more efficient LEDs is about 143 trillion British thermal units less than the previous status quo) and consumers (savings topped an estimated $1.4 billion annually in 2014)—but not for growth-starved electric utilities. And, this is just the beginning of a transition that poses serious problems for utilities already grappling with long-term slow-growth forecasts.

In its latest assessment of the LED market (Adoption of Light-Emitting Diodes in Common Lighting Applications, which can be found here), DOE notes that “the adoption of LEDs in general illumination applications is just beginning.” Specifically, while the 215 million figure represents a quadrupling of the number of LEDs installed in just two years, it still amounts to just 3 percent of the U.S. market, which is pegged at some seven billion lighting fixtures.

In a blue sky projection, DOE estimates that if all seven billion lights could be replaced overnight with LEDs, the source energy savings would skyrocket to just under 4,900 trillion Btu (roughly 4.9 quads)—saving customers about $49 billion a year. While we won’t get there overnight, that is the direction we are headed, a direction bound to cause a significant amount of concern in utility C-suites nationwide. (For an earlier analysis of the LED threat, please see this story.)

Continue reading 215 Million And Rising:
 Surge In LED Installs
 Is A Growing Threat
 To Utility Industry