What’s at stake?
The solid-state lighting LED bulb will use only 10 watts. If all 971 million 60W bulbs currently use were replaced, the DOE estimates that:
the country would save approximately 34.0 Terawatt-hours of electricity in one year, and avoid 5.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s enough electricity to power the lights of 17.4 million U.S. households, or nearly twice the annual electricity consumption of the city of Las Vegas.
What’s happening now?
The DOE received one entry from Philips last year — it’s being tested now. More entrants are expected.
When can I get one?
DOE hopes to announce at least one winner by the end of this year.
Why is DOE doing this?
The idea is to avoid the mass confusion of consumers that happened with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Sure CFLs save energy but light quality and longevity have been mixed (and what about that mercury?) The L-Prize winner will meet tough standards for light quality, durability and energy usage so that consumers can pay the premium price with confidence. This should result in faster take up and bigger energy savings.
How can I learn more?
The DOE has a website devoted to the L Prize. DOE has a host of programs related to solid-state lighting which has many applications beyond the standard light bulb: outdoor lighting, for example. DOE has launched the Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium to help localities find the right products to meet their needs. One challenge is finding financing mechanisms that will use the lower power and maintenance costs to offset the higher initial cost.
By developing standards and sharing information, the DOE hopes to reduce risk for businesses, governments and households in order to speed up deployment of this important new energy-saving technology.