A Zero Carbon Future for the LED Lighting Industry: Turning Back the Clock

It can be hard to think about the extent of our energy consumption in real terms. When rinsing out and saving that 6 pint milk carton for the recycling, how can one know what difference was made?
Selective focus photo of a turned on light bulb

Springing into Action

It can be hard to think about the extent of our energy consumption in real terms. When rinsing out and saving that 6 pint milk carton for the recycling, how can one know what difference was made? There are a few clocks at hand to help see this drop in the ocean; The MCC carbon clock shows how much CO2 exists before global warming takes a serious turn for the worst. Poodwaddle counts how much pollution there is, in day-today digestible concepts. And Worldometers has how many hectares of forests will die this year to how many years until the oil runs out.  EGG Lighting have considered the long-term impacts of technology on these clocks. This Spring, we attended the All Energy 2017 conference and our Director, Brian O’Reilly M.Sc., visited a CE100 event in Oxford. Brian also presented for Scottish Enterprise at an IEMA circular economy (CE) event. We want to use this opportunity to share with you what we have learned about refining energy use.  

Improving Networks for a Zero Carbon Future

 All Energy 2017 helped build perspective on the future requirements of energy use. A major theme of the discussion was macro-scale energy consumption. Several organisations suggested improving networks to tackling rising numbers. We managed to catch a few central dialogues on how this could be done.  Zero Carbon Britain (ZCB) posed that energy use should go to what improves well-being. Included in this strategy is building energy efficient housing stock. This will decrease household energy from 10,000 kWh/annum to 4,000. Land use for food and improving the carbon footprint of Retail were also addressed.  Speakers from Strathclyde University added to this in regards to more efficient heating. They encouraged technology lifecycle improvements, rather than replacing like-for-like commodities. Particularly inspiring from all was their enthusiastic methods to slowing the clocks.  

Lighting the Way to a Circular Economy in the LED Industry

Our Director, Brian O’Reilly, attended the Oxford CE100 Acceleration Workshop by the Ellen MacArthur foundation. This foundation encourages adoption of circular economy (CE) by businesses, government and academic researchers. An explanation from the CE website sums the concept up well, “There’s a world of opportunity to re-think and re-design the way we make stuff. ‘Re-Thinking Progress’ explores how through a change in perspective we can re-design the way our economy works – designing products that can be ‘made to be made again’ and powering the system with renewable energy.” The CE promotes on-the-ground innovators to build products that last. When expired, materials should feed back into the production line. This is different to a linear life cycle whereby new models replace obsolescent ones. This is often seen in commercial goods and is present in the LED lighting industry. Circular economy’s three main principles are to choose resources that preserve natural capital, keep materials contributing to economy and reduce damage to fundamental needs such as air and water.  

The Scottish Enterprise IEMA CE Event

Brian shared his perspectives on the current state of LED manufacturing and supply. As with ZCB, he advocated that LED technology must improve from a zero waste standpoint.  Even with LED technology, some degree of built in obsolescence still exists. As with Haitz’s Law, LEDs are subject to continuous technological improvements. Replacing LEDs with new ones goes against the inherent environmentally friendly premise. Good material from old fittings, including scarce metals like gold, are dumped. Creating lights and lighting services to last is the next step for the LED industry.  It is well within reach to have lights that last considering it has been done before. Alongside good service models this would ensure continuous worth of the clients’ investment. In a service scenario, the industry would engage in grassroots problem solving. Waste can then be effectively managed at the source. It is time to leave linear LED development behind. A circular product cycle can slow natural resources from depleting so rapidly.  EGG Lighting are working towards creating products that are even more sustainable. We have an ongoing commitment to energy and material efficiency.