When Predictions Come True: LED Is Lighting Up The World
A decade ago, I covered an economic study of the Chicago area that startled its researchers by predicting that LED lighting would soon become the world’s dominant source of lighting.
“It took us by surprise,” said Robert Weissbourd, the president of RW-Ventures and one of the authors of The Chicago Region’s Green Economic Opportunities. “It’s projected that the shift to LED lighting is going to be huge. It’s going to capture 60 percent of the market globally in the next ten years.”
We don’t know yet whether that 60 percent has come true because it takes the bulb counters a couple of years to gather the data, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration confirmed in a report released today that the U.S., at least, is getting close.
“LED bulbs were reported in 9% of commercial buildings in 2012, but they were reported in 44% of commercial buildings in 2018,” the EIA’s Zack Marohl reports. “The prevalence of all other bulb types decreased between 2012 and 2018.
LED is now the second most common bulb type in U.S. commercial buildings, trailing only standard fluorescents, which are in decline:
A decade ago, LED bulbs cost $35 each, compared to $1.25 for an incandescent, but even with that high initial cost they promised savings over the bulb’s lifetime. That LED light would cost only $95.95 to operate for the next 50,000 hours, compared to $652.50 for the incandescent and $159.75 for the CFL.
Since then, the initial cost of LED has dropped enough that some LED bulbs now sell at that incandescent price tag.
A decade ago, the light-bulb market was dominated by three manufacturers: Sylvania, Philips and GE. Weissbourd wondered aloud whether those companies would embrace LED or go the way of Kodak, which tried to bury its digital-camera technology because it feared the impact on film-camera sales.
GE and Philips are still among the top bulb manufacturers today, but several upstart companies, including Acuity, Cree and Eaton, have surged ahead of them.
Here’s the story from a decade ago: