Seeing the light: LEDs power India’s drive for household energy-efficiency

(UN Environment, 13 Sep 2018) How many people does it take to change a light bulb? So begins the old joke, but the more serious question for India’s Energy Efficiency Services Ltd was how many people need to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs in order to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint?

India‘s population of over 1.3 billion makes it the second largest nation in the world, so reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions is a sizeable challenge. As part of its commitments under the UN Framework on the Convention on Climate Change, India plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 33-35 per cent from its 2005 levels by 2030. And with the energy sector responsible for over 70 per cent of the nation’s emissions, energy efficiency is crucial to the Government of India’s green ambitions.

Today, these ambitions are a step closer to reality, with the Asian Development Bank, UN Environment and partners combining forces on the Creating and Sustaining Markets for Energy Efficiency project, a Global Environment Facility-supported initiative to catalyze new markets for energy-efficient products, such as LED light bulbs.

The project is backing Indian public-private venture Energy Efficiency Services Ltd to expand the market for LED domestic lighting and street lighting, while providing the expertise necessary to pilot new technologies such as energy-efficient ceiling fans, tri-generation technologies and smart metres.

In a ramshackle street in Keshav Puram in North Delhi, Raj and Mamta Bairwa are pioneering the switch to more efficient lighting. Within their low-income neighbourhood, electric cables and water pipes intertwine across rooftops and dangle over backyards. Here, the couple lives with their six children, aged two to twelve. They used to fit compact fluorescent light bulbs in their household but found the light quality to be dim and the lifespan short. Once they had tried the LED bulbs, there was no turning back.

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UN Environment, 13 Sep 2018: Seeing the light: LEDs power India’s drive for household energy-efficiency