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LED lighting can alleviate India’s stressed power grid

Venugopal Pillai ,  Thursday, January 31, 2013, 17:04 Hrs  [IST]

Himamshu Prasad— Himamshu Prasad, President & CEO, GE Lighting India

GE Lighting is focused on developing energy-efficient solutions that change the way people light their world. In India GE Lighting is headquartered in Bangalore and has regional offices nationwide. GE Lighting offer a complete range of lighting products for various applications such as retail, commercial, industrial, roadway, stadiums etc. We have Himamshu Prasad discussing in detail the energy efficiency of LED vis-à-vis conventional lighting methods. He also explains why LED is a powerful solution to energy-deficient India’s illumination needs. An interview by Venugopal Pillai.

Please illustrate the efficiency of LED lighting vis-à-vis other common forms of lighting like CFL and incandescent lighting.
In general, an LED light bulb can achieve significant energy savings compared to a similar light output incandescent lamp. As an example, GE 9 watts, LED bulb can save 77 per cent energy while producing nearly the same light output as a 40-watt incandescent bulb. It provides a soft white light (3,000K) and 471 lumens, a light-output measurement that makes it an excellent 40- watt incandescent replacement. Based on three hours of usage per day, the bulb is rated to last over 22 years, or more than 25 times as long as a 40-watt incandescent bulb.

The lifecycle efficiency notwithstanding, the high cost of LED is being seen an entry barrier of sorts. What is your view?
You are correct but the barrier is getter smaller by the day. The LED chip, one of the main cost components of an LED lighting system, is getting more efficient and less expensive as the volumes are scaling up. This is helping bring the overall cost of the system down and we are seeing several applications where customers do not perceive capital expenditure as a barrier anymore.

Please take us through the range of LED lighting systems made by GE Lighting in India.
Since 1962 when GE illuminated the first visible LED, we have been continuously investing in the development of LED lighting technology. Today GE lighting offers a complete range of LED lighting products for various applications including retail, commercial, roadway, industrial, signage, refrigeration, transportation, and residential. These include products from our global portfolio as well as locally designed and developed products for the Indian market.

We understand that GE Lighting caters to diverse user-segments like industry, commercial establishments, stadiums, street lighting, etc. Which segments would be your main business drivers in the medium term?
For LEDs, in the medium term, our focus areas are commercial, retail and street lighting.

Does GE Lighting intend to make LED lights for the residential segment, which is to say LED lamps to be used as replacement for GLS/CFL by homeowners?
Yes. We offer a complete range of LED lamps for the residential segment globally. We are yet to launch these in India and are working on initial plans.

GE Lighting IndiaThrough its offices and other infrastructure, the government is a big consumer of lighting products. Do you feel that the government must compulsorily go in for energy-efficient lighting solutions like LED?
Lighting consumes about 20 per cent of all the electricity generated in India. In India, there is still a massive gap between the power generation and demand leading to frequent planned and unplanned power cuts. If majority of the lighting load in India shifts to energy-efficient lighting, this will alleviate the load on the power grid. The long life, lower maintenance and lower lifecycle cost of LED lighting will also generate additional savings for the government.

Tell us how GE Lighting tropicalize its LED products to suit Indian conditions.
GE Lighting’s products have been designed to specifically suit the harsh environmental conditions in India. For example: Higher Ingress Protection (IP 66) with Pressure Die Cast construction has been incorporated to protect the LED system from rains and dust, and wide input voltage drivers are used to handle significant voltage swings.

The Indian LED lighting market appears to have got quite crowded with products available at several price points. What is your view?
The market is indeed crowded but not all LED products are the same in terms of performance. There are two things which one should keep in mind while deciding on which product to purchase: (a) whether the lower priced products meet their declared specification out of the box and (b) whether the product maintains its performance characteristics over the rated life.

At GE we follow the six-sigma methodology and use the 10-step Design for Reliability (DFR) process. This allows us to ‘design in’ a specified level of reliability into our products that takes into account various stress conditions the product will see over its lifetime in a real world application. Our rigorous testing protocol helps us validate that the product will perform as designed over its rated life. Testing is a useful tool to help validate product robustness, but ‘design for reliability’ helps ensure that the product will perform as expected over time.

How do you perceive the growth of Indian LED lighting industry and how do you foresee the growth of GE Lighting in India?
The growth of the Indian LED lighting industry has been robust projected to be growing at 40+ per cent year-over-year basis. GE Lighting expects to outpace the market growth by 2-3 times.
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