Find out whether LED lighting has lived up to its energy efficiency hype, in this analytics report

by Brianna Crandall — January 1, 2018 — The use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to illuminate buildings and outdoor spaces reduced the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of lighting by an estimated 570 million tons in 2017. This reduction is roughly equivalent to shutting down 162 coal-fired power plants, according to IHS Markit, a global provider of critical information, analytics and solutions. LED lighting uses an average of 40% less power than fluorescents, and 80% less than incandescents, to produce the same amount of light, notes the firm.

IHS Markit graph about LED lighting

Click on image to enlarge.

Jamie Fox, principal analyst, lighting and LEDs group, IHS Markit, pointed out:

The efficiency of LEDs is essentially what makes them environmentally friendly. Therefore, LED conversion is unlike other measures, which require people to reduce consumption or make lifestyle changes.

According to the report, LED lighting and component companies were responsible for reducing the global carbon (CO2e) footprint by an estimated 1.5% in 2017, and that number is likely to continue to grow as more LEDs are installed around the world.

LEDs have other positive environmental benefits, too, finds the report. For example, LEDs have a longer life span than traditional bulbs, and fewer are produced, so the emissions and pollution associated with the production, shipping, sale and disposal of the products is lowered. Secondly, unlike fluorescents, LEDs do not contain mercury. LEDs also decrease air pollution, since most electrical energy is still generated by burning fossil fuels.

“While other activities affect climate change more than lighting does, it is still a very strong contribution from a single industry sector,” Fox noted.

IHS Markit says it has tracked the market share for top LED component suppliers for many years. Based on an analysis of this data, Nichia can claim credit for having saved the most carbon overall, accounting for 10% of all LED lighting reduction achieved in 2017, which translates into 57 million tons of CO2 — about the same as 16 coal plants. Cree followed Nichia with 8%, while Lumileds, Seoul Semiconductor, MLS, Samsung and LG Innotek each have a share in the range of 4% to 7%.

Savings achieved by each company relate to the energy saved by the use of that company’s components while installed in lighting applications. It does not include a whole lifecycle analysis, which would likely lead to a small additional positive benefit, due to the longer life of LEDs, the report points out.

Fox concluded:

LED component companies and lighting companies have transformed their industry. They are fighting climate change much more effectively than other industries, and they should be given credit for it. Unlike in other industry sectors, workers at LED companies can honestly say that by selling more of their products, they are helping to reduce global warming.

IHS Markit figures in this report are only based on the lighting market. They do not include energy saved by LEDs that replaced other technologies in other sectors, such as automotive and consumer technology.

To find out more about the LED lighting report, visit the IHS Markit Web site.