Brighten Up! Advances in Lighting Technology Present Transformational Driver

By Tracey Grose

Lighting creates safe passages at night and some security at home. Lighting enables the completion of tasks after the sun goes down such as caring for families, reading, and doing homework. As urban centers in the developing world continue to grow at a fast clip, the demand for energy is growing at a faster rate than supply. And lighting options have always been limited and often dangerous in remote places.

There's also the environmental aspect of lighting. Advanced lighting, such as light emitting diode (LED) systems offer high-efficiency lighting options whether on or off the power grid. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), if solar LED lanterns were to replace kerosene and candles as well as old, on-grid lighting, they would significantly improve the health and safety of users and displace 580 mega tons (Mt) of CO2. This represents a savings that is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of Belgium and the United Kingdom combined.

LED lighting is having a transformational impact in the developing world. The International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, is supporting the growth of modern off-grid lighting by providing market information to manufacturers, distributors, consumers, donors and public officials through its projects, Lighting Global and Lighting Africa.

It’s not enough to just build the market. A trusted source for quality assurance is vital. The Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) is an independent non-profit that aims to help scale the markets for modern lighting through ensuring quality and standards of products.

And public policy plays a big role. The en.lighten Initiative was founded in 2009 by the UNEP-Global Environment Facility (UNEP-GEF) with the aim of accelerating a global market transformation to environmentally sustainable lighting technologies and away from incandescent lighting. The Initiative provides resources for local policymakers on growing markets for advanced lighting (such as the Efficient Lighting Toolkit and country lighting assessments), and it serves as platform for supporting public-private collaborative efforts.

En.lighten Initiative put on the Global Efficient Lighting Forum, Nov 10-11, 2014 Beijing, China to discuss policy strategies for spurring the shift from wasteful lighting to efficient and off-grid alternatives. In preparation for the gathering, a "green paper" was released: "Policy Options to Accelerate the Global Transition to Advanced Lighting."

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