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Solid-state lighting (SSL) has the potential to significantly reduce lighting energy use and slash greenhouse-gas emissions. DOE estimates that SSL could potentially cut national lighting energy use by 75% in 2035, but a number of challenges stand in the way of achieving the full energy-saving potential of SSL.  Although SSL products now appear to be competitive in many applications—from bulbs sold in grocery stores to street lights in our cities—SSL technology is actually still in its infancy.  Continued innovation is needed to realize the full potential of the technology – innovation in the areas of increased efficacy and improved lighting quality as well as improved cost competitiveness.

Lessons Learned Guide Path Forward

A 2006 DOE study, Compact Fluorescent Lighting in America: Lessons Learned on the Way to Market, analyzed market introduction of compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) in the U.S., with emphasis on identifying lessons that could be applied to SSL. The findings informed the DOE SSL program strategy for testingdemonstrations, and technical support for standards development.

A follow-on study in 2014, Solid-State Lighting: Early Lessons Learned on the Way to Market, analyzes lessons learned in the early stages of SSL market introduction, identifies remaining challenges and their implications for the future, and offers recommendations for a path forward to ensure that the full energy saving potential of SSL is realized. Lab and field evaluations of today’s SSL products reveal technological issues related to lumen maintenancecolor stabilityflicker, and dimming performance. The current LED market focuses primarily on products that fit into the existing infrastructure of legacy lighting products, and this approach presents challenges related to compatibility, interoperability, and interchangeability. This current focus also sharply limits the potential of the new technology.

However, sophisticated new lighting systems are becoming a reality — which presents further challenges, as well as opportunities. These systems have the potential to offer added benefits related to health and wellnesscolor tunability, and communications and data exchange. Emerging SSL program areas of focus include evaluating the performance needs of advanced lighting systems, addressing interoperability issues, and identifying ways to optimize the energy performance of future lighting systems.