Is the Switch to LED Light Outdoors Responsible for ruining our view of the night sky?

“While we know that LEDs save energy in specific projects — for example when a city transitions all of its street lighting from sodium lamps to LED — when we look at our data and we look at the national and the global level, it indicates that these savings are being offset by either new or brighter lights in other places,” study author Christopher Kyba said during a news conference.

The study compares the increase in light pollution to global gross domestic product, showing that, while LEDs were promised as a way to reduce energy consumption around the world, they may not have fulfilled that promise.

Instead, cities are simply using more LEDs to light their cities, canceling out any savings they may have had from switching to the new lights in the first place, the authors suggest.

 

Kyba and his colleagues used data collected by the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite to monitor changes in artificial light over the years.

The scientists analyzed the data to see which parts of the world got darker, brighter, or didn’t change at all.

Larger city centers actually looked like they decreased in brightness due to replacing older lights with white LEDs, according to Kyba, but those cities increased in brightness in areas around the city.

“There is a potential for the solid-state lighting revolution to save energy and reduce light pollution, but only if we don’t spend the savings on new light,” Kyba said in a statement.

Artificially bright night skies can create a whole host of health concerns for wildlife and humans.

 

“Recent findings on ecological light pollution include the disruption of critical ecosystem functions as well. There are several examples. For instance, a Nature study just reported an impact on pollination by nocturnal insects. So many insects have also functions as nocturnal pollinators, and not only that: We have to take care of diurnal pollinators,” Franz Holker, another author of the study, said.

“In addition, it [light pollution] can impact the seed dispersal by bats, for instance, carbon mineralization by microorganisms.”

A 2009 study showed that some trees have trouble adapting to artificial light as the seasons change, and newborn sea turtles also mistaken streetlights for the light of the moon, which they rely on to guide them to the ocean. When these turtles follow streetlights, it leads them away from the sea and to possible death.

The VIIRS data used for the new study has its own blindspots, however.

 

The satellite instrument can’t see blue light, which is considered one of the worst forms of light pollution. Blue light scatters more in the atmosphere than other parts of the spectrum, meaning that it spreads farther and wider in the atmosphere than other colors of light like red light.

Because VIIRS is unable to see that light, the authors of the study suggest that people on the ground actually experience more light pollution than what the satellite can monitor.

Blue light is also linked with serious health concerns.

“Blue light interferes with melatonin production and circadian rhythms,” Fabio Falchi, a light pollution researcher who is not affiliated with the new study, said in an email. “Our dark adapted eye is more sensitive to blue, so we’ll perceive the sky brighter, so more light polluted.”

The new study is the most recent in a wave of research digging into how the night sky is becoming less and less visible to more people on Earth.

An atlas released in 2016 showed that one-third of people on Earth aren’t able to see the clouds of the Milky Way at night.

That study found that Singapore is so bright that human eyes can’t actually adapt for night vision due to the light pollution.

While researchers agree that energy-efficient LEDs are the way to go on the whole, the study’s authors contend that orange or red-tinted LEDs would be far better for mitigating light pollution than white LEDs, which pollute cities with blue light.

“So the real dream is that we have great vision on the streets, every where you go you would never really experience inside of a city an uncomfortably dark place, but because the light is used so much more efficiently, you would have very many more stars to see over top of the sky,” Kyba said.

Lighting Industry Calls For Steps to Curb Spurious LED Bulbs

The lighting industry has called for stronger regulatory enforcement to ensure that LED bulbs sold in the market comply with safety standards mandated for these products by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY). A study conducted by Nielsen across New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad has found that 76% of LED bulb brands are non-compliant with the government mandates. The LED industry has sold 52.4 crore LEDs till October, 2017. “It is important for the government to act against these spurious and non-branded products for safeguarding consumer safety and protecting their revenues against these companies,” said Sumit Joshi, vice-chairman and managing director, Philips Lighting India.

As per Elcoma (Electric Lamp and Component Manufacturers’ Association), the total LED lighting market in India is worth Rs 10,000 crore, significantly higher than Rs 500 crore in 2010. The Nielsen survey showed that 48% of LED bulb brands had no mention of manufacturer’s address and 31% brands did not have a manufacturer’s name, violating Indian legal metrology regulations. Delhi had the highest degree of violation of BIS norms in the country.

Spurious LED bulbs have potential to jeopardise the government’s energy efficiency targets, as it has embarked on a mission to replace power guzzling incandescent bulbs across the country. “It is extremely likely that they (spurious products) will be non-compliant with energy efficiency parameters as well,” said Surya Roshni managing director Raju Bista. The government plans to replace 77 crore incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs by March 2019 under the national LED lighting programmes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015. The government has distributed more than 27.5 crore LED bulbs till date through Energy Efficiency Services (EESL), the implementing agency for the central government’s LED programmes. This has helped avoid peak demand of 7,161 MW and saving 35,769 million units of electricity and `14,142 crore in power bills every year. EESL said it not only checks BIS compliance of suppliers, but carries out independent verification and testing of these bulbs as well.

Fifteen Industry-led Projects Awarded AU 33 Million Dollars

Fifteen diverse industry-led projects are receiving a AU$33 million investment from the Australian Government, under the fourth round of the Cooperative Research Centres – Projects (CRC-P) Program. There will be an additional AU$98 million in cash and in-kind contributions from 97 project partners.

Eight of the fifteen projects would be supported by an additional AU$20 million allocated to the CRC-P Program from the $100 million Advanced Manufacturing Fund for larger scale advanced manufacturing research projects, as announced in the 2017 Budget.

“This additional funding for the CRC-P program is part of the Government’s commitment to boosting innovation, skills and employment in advanced manufacturing to continue the transition to a new economy,” the Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy said.

CRC-P grants support short term industry-led collaborations to develop important new technologies, products and services that deliver tangible outcomes. Up to $3 million over three years is available for each CRC-P.

To date, the Australian Government’s CRC-P program has awarded AU$133 million in 63 high-quality research projects where businesses, industry and research institutions are working together to solve industry-specific issues and develop new products, technologies or services.

Funded projects in this round include a portable, non-invasive brain scanner for early stroke detection and monitoring; a high performance alternative to the lithium battery for the energy storage market; Integrated Smart Home Energy Management, Control system; a novel manufacturing system that transforms recycled waste plastics into durable, low-cost spectacle frames and potentially other high performance products; and a next-generation hydrogen energy system that will offer a reliable, cost-effective renewable energy solution for regional and remote communities.

Applications for round five will be open from February 2018, with funding outcomes expected to be announced in June 2018.

“These projects are delivering tangible outcomes for Australia’s industry sectors like energy, mining and resources, manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture and transport. These projects are helping Australian manufacturers evolve to high value manufacturing based on smart means of production and higher value adding products,” Mr. Laundy said.

“By facilitating business involvement in collaborative research, the CRC Projects strongly align with the Australian Government’s commitment to improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries as a source of new growth and new jobs,” he added.

China LED Market Forecast to Hit 24 Billion Dollars by 2024

By 2024, China’s LED lighting market is forecasted to reach $24 Billion. With the growth of China’s economy, demand for energy efficient LED lighting is also rising. China’s lighting industry has experienced growth and the country has become a leading world lighting consumer and producer for the last 20 years.

The mounting consumer demand for energy-efficient lighting systems, decreasing prices of LED, and high penetration of LED as a light source in the general lighting market are expected to drive the growth of the product. LED lighting has gone from a costly product outside the cost-conscious sweet-spot of Chinese buyers to a value-adding solutions, gaining market share and realizing sustainable growth. China’s lighting market is experiencing shifts from conventional lighting to LED technology.

China’s Government Enthusiastically Backs LED Lighting

For promoting high-efficiency LED lighting products, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and China’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) have collaborated to look after interim measures on the administration of financial subsidies.

The actions like financial subsidies to promote LEDs lighting. In the current scenario, Local governments have been more rapidly in response than China’s central government in implementing LED subsidies. In China, Guangdong Province, consist the largest LED industry size and has relatively higher amount of subsidies. As of 2013, Foshan in Guangdong Province, Dongyuan, Zhongshan and many other cities have launched several subsidy projects to promote LED lighting products in mass level. In the meantime, Power costs saved by LEDs are all used to subsidize construction projects in Zhongshan city.

LED meets the need of energy efficient light source imposed by most of the government. Environmental protection and energy conservation concerns have risen in recent years due to climate change. Regulation across the world has become more stringent and governments offer incentives for entire building infrastructures in order to encourage environment-friendly initiatives.

Besides conventional financing, new lighting installations can be financed through government and municipality projects (public/private partnership, private financing initiatives) and carbon financing under the Clean Development Mechanism. Meanwhile, as China continues to urbanize, the potential demand for urban public lighting projects is huge.

Since October 2012, China has banned the import and sale of all incandescent bulbs over 100 watts, and on October 1, 2016, steadily the country extended the ban to those over 15 watts.

In China, the commercial segment of the LED lighting market dominates the market share compared to other segments. Other LED lighting segments such as residential, industrial and outdoor are also performing well in China. Moreover, implementation of LED lighting standard in China will further shift the LED lighting into high quality LED product.