Lighting plays a key role in our daily lives as well as in commerce and industry worldwide. It makes it possible to carry out activities at night, or where natural light is not available.
Supplying ‘artificial’ light consumes energy and, globally, electric lamps are the most common source of artificial light.
However, fuel-based technologies (such as kerosene lamps) are also widely used, particularly in regions without access to the electricity grid or with an unreliable electricity supply.
Current lighting solutions present crucial challenges for both local and global sustainable development. Some notable examples are:
• At present, grid-based electric lighting consumes 19% of total global electricity production. This represent approximately 0.7% of global GDP and 7% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.
• Fuel-based lighting (e.g. paraffin or kerosene lamps) represents only 1% of global lighting. However, it is responsible for about 20% of lighting emissions and consumes approximately 3% of the world’s oil supply.
• The costs of kerosene and non-rechargeable batteries may account for more than one third of the total income of the poor.
• The most popular fuel-based technologies provide extremely low quality light. Their use also carries high risk of injury (i.e. burning).
A wide range of energy efficient lighting technologies exists. This publication aims to give a clear overview of those alternatives, as well as discussing the difficulty of consolidating the alternatives as ‘common sense’ solutions. The main ideas are also illustrated through the experiences from projects implemented in different developing and emerging countries.