FIGURE 1.1 Total primary energy consumption in the United States, 2010 (in quadrillion Btu, or quads). Total U.S. primary energy use in 2010 was 98.0 quads.

or “lamps” that are much more efficient and have a much longer life span than either incandescent bulbs or compact fluorescent bulbs. LEDs and OLEDs alone cannot be used for illumination applications; additional electrical, thermal, structural, and optical components are necessary to create SSL products. Throughout the rest of the report, the term “SSL products” will be used to describe integrated LED or OLED lighting systems. In addition, LEDs and OLEDs are not limited to the current shape of existing lighting technologies and, therefore, have the potential to dramatically alter how we integrate light into our buildings and how our future “light bulbs” and luminaires might look and behave.


Congress recognized the potential for energy savings in the lighting sector in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Congress requested that the Department of Energy (DOE) contract with the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct a study to assess the status of SSL as a technology. The statement of task is separated into three main sections (Box 1.1): a review of the development of SSL technology and products, a discussion of future impacts, and the implications of the study for decision-making. The main tasks for the study were to investigate the following:

•   Status of SSL research, development, demonstration, and commercialization in the United States;

•   Timeline for commercialization of this technology as a replacement technology for current light sources;

•   Past, current, and future cost trajectories for SSL;

•   Consumer acceptance of and potential benefits from SSL;

•   Potential barriers to success of the industry, both in research and development (R&D) and manufacturing and commercialization;

•   International aspects of SSL;

•   Applications for the technology, both current and future;

•   Unintended consequences of SSL in different applications;

•   Application of lessons learned from the commercialization of CFLs to the roll out of SSL; and

•   Recommendations to DOE for research, development, and deployment activities.


FIGURE 1.2 Example of how end-use efficiency influences overall fuel conversion efficiency. In this example, typical for residential use of electricity for illumination, the efficiency of converting the chemical energy stored in coal to the electricity entering a building is about 33 percent (0.35 × 0.94). But after accounting for the low efficiency of the incandescent light bulb, the efficiency of converting chemical energy to light energy is only 1.3 percent. All values are approximate. SOURCE: Updated and adapted from National Research Council (2010b).

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