The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) issued directives to the Secretary of Energy to carry out a Next Generation Lighting Initiative to support SSL R&D. The legislation directs DOE to support research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities related to advanced SSL technologies. In order to effectively fulfill the directives in EPACT 2005 and EISA 2007, DOE developed a comprehensive national strategy to build collaborative efforts with the lighting industry and research community to guide SSL technology innovation. The DOE SSL program has been deeply involved in SSL R&D for over a decade—challenging industry with aggressive reach goals for efficacy and performance, and monitoring emerging products to identify performance issues early on, alerting manufacturers to needed improvements.
Despite rapid advances, SSL technology is actually in its early years. When it comes to U.S. energy savings, almost 95% of its potential remains untapped. Continued innovation and breakthroughs in materials, processes, product designs, control systems, and manufacturing are still needed to realize the full potential of the technology.
SSL products are now available for most lighting applications, from living room table lamps to high power sports stadium lights. Today’s products can match or exceed the performance and energy efficiency of the most efficient conventional lighting technologies, including fluorescent and high intensity discharge sources. However, unlike conventional sources, SSL technology still has significant room for additional performance and efficiency improvements, through improved materials, optics, electronic design, system intelligence, and advanced controls.
DOE’s role is to work closely with the industry and lighting user/specifier community to realize this full potential, rather than settling for “good enough.” Potential benefits include cutting U.S. lighting-related energy use by 75% by 2035, along with related environmental protection, improved lighting quality and service, multi-use technology breakthroughs, economic savings, job creation, and U.S. technology leadership.
Research and Development Thrusts
SSL program R&D investments include core technology research for light emitting diode (LED) and organic LED (OLED) technology; proof-of-concept and prototype development for LEDs and OLEDs; and advanced manufacturing R&D focused on chemistry and physics of LED and OLED panel fabrication. DOE-funded projects support key scientific advancements in SSL technology and help to accelerate the development of high-quality LED and OLED products that can significantly improve energy affordability for American families and businesses and ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in SSL innovation. Learn more about SSL program R&D.
Technology application R&D projects address broad issues related to SSL technology development and performance, with a view that impacts the entire industry. This research focuses on applications where energy use is high or where rapid growth in lighting energy use is expected. Basic analytic and experimental studies are conducted to advance the fundamental understanding of the full range of effects of the spectrum, intensity, and duration of light provided by SSL systems, and the implications of those effects for the development of SSL technologies that maximize the efficient production and use of light in multiple applications. Foundational research identifies gaps in our understanding and augments our knowledge base, while field and laboratory evaluations identify and characterize performance issues early on, feeding that information back to technology developers to speed the pace of technology improvements. It also feeds back into DOE planning for R&D priorities, allowing DOE to make better informed decisions on R&D investments. Learn more about technology application R&D.
DOE’s SSL program strategically partners with private industry and industry associations to accelerate the development of SSL. DOE’s partnership with the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA) enhances the manufacturing and commercialization focus of the DOE portfolio by utilizing the expertise of this organization of SSL manufacturers. DOE partners with the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) to provide their professional designers and specifiers with specific, actionable technical information they can use to ask tough questions of their vendors, and thereby exert significant influence on technology development. Together, DOE, IALD, and IES partner on Next Generation Lighting Systems evaluations to examine today’s connected lighting systems in real-world installations. These evaluations identify challenges in installation and operation, reveal needed product improvements, and articulate principles and best practices that will reduce configuration complexity and enable system performance to meet expectations. Learn more.
The 300 solid-state lighting R&D projects DOE has funded since 2000 have resulted in 316 patents applied for or awarded and a huge industry footprint, with literally millions of SSL products currently on the market that are based on at least some DOE-funded R&D. Those products have contributed to more than $4.7 billion in energy savings so far – a remarkable return on the total DOE investment of about $450 million. Learn more about SSL R&D Program Impacts.