LEDs Make an Impact

Switching to energy-efficient lighting to reduce emissions

The lighting industry holds immense potential for reducing energy consumption. According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), only four industries are on track to meet the global climate goals and one of them is the lighting industry; the other three being solar photovoltaic, electric vehicles and data centres. In this regard, LEDs have been recognised by the IEA as one of the most energy efficient technologies for reducing carbon emissions, capturing a third of the lighting market.

India, too, has ushered in the LED revolution with the LED distribution programme, Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All (UJALA), launched in 2015. It is the largest LED distribution programme in the world and is being implemented in 100 cities covering most states. It aims to replace basic and inefficient incandescent, halogen, fluorescent lamps with modern LED lights.

The IEA has lauded India’s efforts in promoting LED uptake, which can be replicated by other countries. As per the UJALA dashboard, of the 770 million LED bulbs proposed to be provided by March 2019 under the programme, India has sold over 302 million bulbs as of July 2018.

Energy efficiency lighting programmes and initiatives

With UJALA, India has become the biggest LED market. So far, UJALA has helped achieve savings of 39.37 billion kWh of power annually and 7,864 MW of peak power demand, in addition to a significant reduction in retail LED prices. The programme, which is being implemented by super energy service company (ESCO) Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), has set overall targets of 100 billion kWh and 20,000 MW for energy savings and load reduction respectively.

EESL has launched another major programme, the Street Lighting National Programme (SLNP), which involves converting conventional street lights into LED street lights. As of July 2018, 6.2 million LEDs have been replaced with LED street lights as against the target of 14 million by 2019, leading to average annual energy savings of 270.49 kWh per light.

LED street lights are weather resistant, and approximately 50 per cent more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and high pressure sodium lighting. However, their uptake has been limited by high initial costs. To overcome this, EESL is partnering with urban local bodies (ULBs), municipal bodies and local governments under the SLNP by bearing the upfront investment costs.

In fact, both UJALA and the SLNP are based on a sustainable business model, where the cost of efficient lighting is repaid by consumers or ULBs over a period of time through savings in energy and maintenance expenditure. The entire upfront investment is made by EESL, which procures LED bulbs and LED street lights through a transparent and competitive bidding process by aggregating the demand for the same across the country. This bulk procurement of LED bulbs and LED street lights enables EESL to distribute LED bulbs to consumers and install LED lights in ULBs at lower rates compared to the retail market.

EESL has expanded the UJALA scheme and is now also distributing 20 W LED tube lights as well. So far, 6.5 million tube lights have been sold under the programme at a price of Rs 220 per tube, as against the market price of Rs 400-Rs 600. Apart from these initiatives, many states have started to adopt energy efficient street lamps under the Smart Cities Mission. Some cities have upgraded to connected smart street lights. One example is Naya Raipur, the new capital of Chhattisgarh, which has a very modern connected lighting infrastructure that is monitored remotely.


Home lighting, lights used by businesses and organisations, and infrastructure and street lighting are the three main areas of power consumption. The switch to energy efficient LED options under the UJALA and SLNP schemes has resulted in significant energy saving. There have also been significant market benefits. Reportedly, India’s share in the global LED market has now increased to 12 per cent from a mere 0.1 per cent, with LED penetration in the domestic market rising to 10 per cent from 0.4 per cent. As a direct benefit to the people and the industry, annual domestic LED production increased from 3 million bulbs to over 60 million bulbs, creating 60,000 jobs. With lighting as a whole contributing to 18-20 per cent of total power consumption in the country, it is clearly one of the key segments that will drive us to a greener future.


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