Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Urban Food Forest

An Urban Food Forest is an area within a city with fruit and nut trees, complemented by berry shrubs, herbs and companions plants that help avoid pests and diseases, and that provide nitrogen, nutrients and mulch to the soil. Together, they can produce high yields of food with little need for maintenance.
Urban Food Forests can offer people healthy food and places to gather and relax, while also helping regarding climate change and longer-term food security. They can be living seed banks, featuring trees and shrubs that are at risk of extinction around the world, among many local varieties, allowing people to compare and collect seeds to enrich their private gardens and preserve precious species. They can offer people opportunities to share and study agricultural techniques that are sustainable and suitable for urban settings, such as permaculture and organic farming.
One such forest is proposed for Jefferson Park in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle, where the slopes allow a large variety of plants to grow, from a range of climate zones. Above image is from Friends of the Beacon Hill Food Forest, who are working with a landscape architect and volunteers to plan and execute the project in Seattle.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Clean Energy Ministerial

Clean Energy Ministerial
[ originally posted July 21, 2010 ]
On July 19th and 20th in Washington, D.C., ministers from 24 governments participated in the first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial, launching 11 new initiatives to accelerate the global transition to clean energy. These initiatives will avoid the need to build more than 500 mid-sized power plants in the next 20 years, promote the rapid deployment of electric vehicles, support the growing global market for renewable energy and carbon capture technologies, bring solar lanterns or other improved energy services to more than 10 million people without access to grid electricity by 2015, and help encourage women to pursue careers in clean energy.
Participating governments account for more than 80 percent of global energy consumption and a similar percentage of the market for clean energy technologies. The following governments participated in the Clean Energy Ministerial: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The initiatives launched build on the Technology Action Plans released by the Major Economies Forum Global Partnership in December 2009 and will help to achieve global climate and energy policy goals. Governments listed below for each initiative reflect participants as of July 20.
Global Energy Efficiency Challenge. Governments launched five initiatives as part of a Global Energy Efficiency Challenge to help cut energy waste around the world. These programs will help bring super-efficient consumer appliances to growing global markets, target energy savings in the buildings sector, improve the energy efficiency of industrial processes, and encourage deployment of millions of electric vehicles. Once fully implemented, these programs will eliminate the need for at least 500 mid-sized power plants by 2030.
1. Appliances: The Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative aims to transform the global market for energy-using equipment and appliances, such as televisions and lighting. SEAD will help governments overcome market barriers to capture a significant portion of global appliance efficiency energy savings.
SEAD addresses both ends of the efficiency spectrum: helping pull super-efficient devices into the market through cooperation on measures like manufacturer incentives and research and development investments and helping push inefficient devices off the market by bolstering national policies like minimum efficiency standards. Specific efforts include the development of toolkits for policymakers seeking to enhance national appliance efficiency programs and launching new Global Efficiency Awards, which will recognize the very best super-efficient appliances sold (and under development) in global markets.
Governments participating in this initiative include Australia, Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
2. Buildings and Industry: The Global Superior Energy Performance (GSEP) Partnership will help large buildings and industrial facilities which account for almost 60 percent of global energy use  measure and reduce their energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions over time, incentivizing positive change with an internationally-recognized certification program. GSEP participants will share tools, trainings and best practices for tracking and accelerating energy performance improvements, both within their sector and across industry sectors. As part of the program, eight companies representing over $600 billion in annual sales and one university will pilot the program.
GSEP partners will also advance efficiency through public-private task groups targeting major energy-intensive industries, such as the power generation sector, steel industry, and hotel chains. These task groups will identify and promote the deployment of the best-available efficiency technologies and best practices, standardize protocols for measuring and monitoring energy use, and facilitate communication among stakeholders. Additionally, participants in GSEP announced a task group to promote the adoption of innovative cool roof technologies across sectors.
Governments participating in GSEP include Canada, the European Commission, France, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. Pilot participants include 3M Company, Cleveland Clinic, Dow Chemical Company, Grubb & Ellis Company, Marriott International, Inc., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Nissan, Target Corporation, and Walmart Stores, Inc. Initial participants in the sectoral task groups include JFE Steel Corporation and Tokyo Electric Power Company.
3. Smart Grid: The International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) will help accelerate the development and deployment of smart electricity grids around the world through high-level government dialogue, sharing best-practices, technical assistance, peer review and project coordination, where appropriate. Smart grid technologies will promote the growth of renewable energy, help consumers and businesses to better measure and manage their energy use, improve the reliability of the electrical system, and speed the introduction of fuel-saving electric vehicles. ISGAN complements the Global Smart Grid Federation, an association of associations composed of leading smart grid stakeholder organizations from around the world, which was also announced at the Ministerial.
ISGAN will facilitate cooperation in five key areas: smart grid policy, regulation and finance; standards policy; pre-competitive technology research, development and demonstration; workforce skills and knowledge; and engagement of smart grid users and consumers at all levels.
Governments participating in ISGAN include Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, the European Commission, France, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

4. Electric Vehicles: The Electric Vehicles Initiative (EVI) will help countries deliver on their respective electric vehicle deployment targets through sister-city partnerships, cooperation to develop key technologies, and dialogue to identify and encourage best-practice deployment strategies. The International Energy Administration estimates that delivering on these targets will put participating countries on the path to deploy at least 20 million electric vehicles by 2020, thereby reducing global oil consumption by approximately one billion barrels over the next decade. Participants agreed to launch pilot programs in coordination with industry, academia and other stakeholders, and share best practices, data and lessons learned to dramatically scale up electric vehicle sales.
Governments participating in the EVI include China, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Other initial partners include the International Energy Agency (IEA).
5. Capacity Building for Developing Country Policymakers: The Clean Energy Solutions Centers will help governments of developing countries drive transformational low-carbon technologies by creating a virtual network to identify and share best-practice policies, provide the market with information on emerging policy trends, and identify opportunities for policy coordination across countries. The Solutions Centers will serve as a clearinghouse for policy information, supporting a network of at least 100 policy and technology experts with an initial focus on energy efficiency.
Governments participating in developing Clean Energy Solutions Centers include Australia, France, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Other initial partners include the ClimateWorks Foundation and the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Clean Energy Supply. Governments launched four initiatives designed to accelerate the deployment of low-carbon energy sources around the world:
1. Carbon Capture, Use and Storage: The Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage (CCUS) Action Group, a collaboration between governments and businesses, will develop a Global Strategic Implementation Plan to make recommendations at the next Clean Energy Ministerial on how global CCUS deployment can be accelerated between now and 2020. The CCUS Action Group will work to overcome barriers to CCUS deployment in five key areas: strategic direction, use and storage, financing, regulation, and knowledge sharing, with the goal of accelerating and building on existing global initiatives. It will leverage the broad body of work on CCUS by international CCUS institutions.
Governments participating in the CCUS Action Group include Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Initial business and institutional partners include Aker Clean Carbon, the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, the Center for American Progress, Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, the International Energy Agency, Sasol, ScottishPower, Shell, the World Coal Institute, and the World Resources Institute.
2. Solar and Wind: The Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group will support the growing global market for solar and wind technologies through two initial projects the Global Solar and Wind Atlas and a Long-Term Strategy on Joint Capacity Building that will further lower the incremental costs of providing wind and solar energy to all regions of the world, thereby reducing emissions, creating jobs and promoting energy security. The Global Solar and Wind Atlas will ensure that analysts and policymakers have comprehensive and accurate data when making investment decisions. The project will combine and expand existing databases on wind and solar potential and social and economic conditions into one open web portal that will allow access to user-tailored data.
A Long-Term Strategy on Joint Capacity Building will help train the global clean energy workforce of the future by providing a range of international training opportunities along the whole value chain of solar and wind technologies, from basic working skills to academic education.
Governments participating in the Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group include Denmark, Germany, Japan, and Spain. Other countries that have shown interest in joining the initiative include Australia, the European Commission, France, Korea, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The main activities and outputs of this working group were indentified during a workshop held in Bonn, Germany in June 2010.
3. Hydropower: The Sustainable Development of Hydropower Initiative will seek to promote the sustainable development of cost-effective hydropower in developing countries. The group's first action will be to inventory a river basin in an African country for potential hydropower resources. Partners in the initiative will also work to identify potential financial resources from multilateral organizations for future sustainable hydropower development.
Governments participating in the Sustainable Development of Hydropower Initiative include Brazil, France, Mexico, and Norway.
4. Bioenergy: The Multilateral Bioenergy Working Group will accelerate the deployment of bioenergy technologies though two initial projects: a Global Bioenergy Atlas and a Long-Term Strategy on Joint Capacity Building. Partners will create a Bioenergy Atlas by expanding an existing database on bioenergy potentials, considering both the potentials for biofuels production and the use of biomass for electricity generation. The Atlas will identify initiatives that can promote the development of new uses of biomass in sustainable and efficient ways in poor communities, exploring the potential of local production with low-cost technologies.
The creation of a Long-Term Strategy on Joint Capacity Building will enhance global cooperation between the bioenergy industry and relevant research institutions with the goal of identifying international regional centers of excellence in bioenergy research and development.
Governments participating in the Bioenergy Working Group include Brazil, Italy, and Sweden.

Clean Energy Access. Governments launched two new initiatives to expand access to the clean energy revolution.
1. Off-grid Appliances: The Solar and LED Energy Access Program (SLED) focuses on the approximately 1.6 billion people who lack access to grid electricity. It aims to transform the global market for affordable, clean, and quality-assured off-grid appliances by addressing fundamental barriers to market development. The program will initially focus on replacing dirty, fossil fuel-based light sources like kerosene lanterns with solar LED lights. The program is expected to improve lighting services for 10 million people within five years.
Key activities under the program will include leveraging private sector financing to develop and demonstrate business models to commercialize clean, off-grid energy services; ensuring quality; educating customers; advising companies; engaging policymakers; and addressing sustainability issues.
Governments participating in SLED include Italy and the United States. The program will be managed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in consultation with donor partners.
The program was first announced in December 2009 by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, accompanied by Italian Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo and Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. It became active at the Clean Energy Ministerial with the transfer of the first contribution of US$10 million from Italy to the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Italy has pledged to contribute an additional US$20 million to the initiative.
2. Women in Energy: Led by U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Dr. Kristina Johnson, the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment (C-3E) Women's Initiative will encourage women to pursue careers in clean energy and lend their innovative power to creating future clean energy technologies. It will offer university talks around the world by women leading in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Governments participating in the C-3E Women's Initiative include Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Clean Energy Ministerial is a high-level forum hosted by different nations to promote policies and programs that advance clean energy technology based on common interests of participating governments and other stakeholders. The meetings are an opportunity to assess progress and to communicate this progress globally.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the United Arab Emirates offered to host the second Clean Energy Ministerial in spring 2011. The United Kingdom offered to host the third Ministerial at a date to be determined. These offers were welcomed by other ministers.
Initiatives Fact Sheets:
Further references:
Clean Energy Ministerial, the White House Blog - Posted by David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs at the Department of Energy

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When will we see the light?

[originally posted February 2008, followed by comments]

Lights consume about 2 trillion kilowatt-hours annually, or one-eighth of all electric power. Globally, lighting is equal in emission contribution to about 70% of the world's passenger vehicles. Of the about 12 billion incandescent lights on the planet, a third are in the U.S. Or, in oil-equivalent terms, U.S. lighting uses the equivalent of 50% of the energy used by all cars on American roads. So, isn't it time to do something about that? 

The incandescent light bulb was patented by Thomas Edison in 1880. So, it's been around for some 128 years ago. Now, it looks like it won't be around for much longer. Cuba was first to ban the bulbs. In January 2007, Democratic Assemblyman Lloyd Levine introduced a bill, aptly titled the "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act", proposing a ban in California by 2012. In February 2007, Australia announced that incandescent light bulbs would be phased out by 2010, in April 2007, Canada announced a ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, and in December 2007, Ireland announced a ban on the sale of incandescent light-bulbs by the year 2009. 

Some argued against replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), as the latter contain mercury, a neurotoxin, while there aren't effective policies in place to recycle them. Also, they pointed out that the flickering effect of CFLs can make people feel dizzy and uncomfortable, cause headaches and can even lead to seizures. Reports [point out that some people are unable to work in offices or use elevators because of the flicker of fluorescent lights. 

But instead of replacing all incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, we should consider light emitting diodes (LEDs) instead. LEDs have been around for decades, illuminating the on/off light in appliances. Now, these little LEDs have developed into lights that can and will replace incandescent light bulbs all around the world. 

Firstly, LEDs do not come with the health and safety risks, and disposal problems of CFLs. LEDs don't flicker, but spread continuous light. Also, LEDs don't contain mercury. 

Furthermore, LEDs are superior regarding p
ower consumption. LEDs consume even less energy than fluorescents. Incandescent bulbs yield some 15 lumens per watt, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) about 80 per watt, or more than five times as much. LEDs have already achieved 100 lumens per watt, while 200 lumens per watt seems possible in the near future.

Then, there's reliability. CFLs can malfunction quickly in environments where they get shocked, which makes them inferior in applications such as traffic lights.
 LEDs can be switched on and off at will, as opposed to the starts and stops that are common with fluorescents. Also, you shouldn't switch fluorescents off too quickly after you've switched them on, or you'll decrease their lifetime. By contrast, LEDs are robust and can last for ages. An incandescent ligh bulb will last 1,000 hours before burning out. CFLs achieve 10,000 hours. LEDs last 50,000, and soon 100,000 hours. This point alone is enough to give LEDs a huge advantage by lowering the cost, time and effort that goes into replacing light bulbs. Maintenance issues weigh in especially in outdoor and industrial environments, as well as critical applications such as hospitals and security.

Size - LEDs are smaller, so you can easily put them in all kinds of fittings, such as downlights. Their small size also allows them to be more easily pointed in a specific direction, as in spotlights and in medical and dental care applications. Due to their small size and low power consumption,LEDs also create less heat and there's less risk of them starting a fire. 

Dimming - It's easier to dim LEDs than CFLs, which results in another advantage: lights can be made that contain multiple LEDs, so that you can change the color, by turning up/down either the red, green or a blue LEDs.
 Headlights, traffic lights or room lights containing multiple LEDs can be spectrally tuned to set moods, match differences in day & night, etc. They can easily highlight specific spots and adjust their intensity as it gets darker in that spot, thus providing more comfort, security and safety.

LED lights - by Wikipedia
The above list of advantages of LEDs over incandescent light bulbs should convince people that there are better alternatives than incandescent light bulbs. It supports the calls for a ban on incandescent light bulbs.

"Ban incandescent light bulbs. Set a date for a national ban. Actively promote a global ban." That's one of the points in my article Ten Recommendations to deal with global warming, published at Gather April 08, 2007. Perhaps it's time to rewrite my list of top Ten Recommendations, but I still haven't changed my mind regarding a ban on incandescent light bulbs. Philosophically, I prefer a FeeBate policy that would add a huge tax to incandescent light bulbs, with the proceeds used for rebates on alternatives. But the problem is that incandescent light bulbs are so cheap that people keep on buying them, even if you added a 100% tax or more. Fees and rebates don't work well with cheap items, they proportionally add a larger administrative burden. So, I'm still in favor of a ban, but I always like to discuss things and I'm open to ideas and suggestions.

The LED Illumination Revolution, by Mark Mills in Forbes. 
Ten Recommendations to deal with global warming - by Sam CaranaLED lights - by Wikipedia


As to cost, much depends on how much you're using a particular light, so it may quickly pay to get LEDs, given the savings you'll have in electricity. Also, LEDs are coming down in price fast, so expect the cost issue to go away once LEDs are produced in sufficient volume.

As with incandescent light bulbs, LEDs can be fitted inside clear or pearl glass. New LEDs can cover wider parts of the spectre and with new lights that contain multiple LEDs, you can tune the color and brightness in many different ways. I see a bright future for LEDs, in the sense that brightness (harsh light) will no longer be a problem. 

One of the problems with CFLs is that they may be too large to fit in existing lights, but note that smaller ones are more widely available nowadays if you look for them. Anyway, LEDs are typically very small and will fit almost anywhere.

Topping LEDs with a coating of carefully tuned nanocrystals can make their light warmer and less clinical, according to the article Crystal coat warms up LED light in New Scientist. It describes how LEDs coated with a layer of nanocrystals produce a soft white glow. Using combinations of nanocrystals, one can generate any color one wants. Warm-white LEDs with high color rendering indices would help facilitate their widespread use indoors. The LEDs were also giving off more than 300 lumens of visible light for every watt of all light emitted.

The article also mentions that illuminating buildings accounts for about a quarter of the electricity used in the US, according to the Department of Energy. So, as long as more than half of our electricity comes from coal, it's good to replace lights with less power consuming ones.

Due to their bright light and long life span, LEDs are safer and more reliable. They are becoming increasingly popular in all outdoor applications, such as streetlights, floodlights, traffic lights, ornamental lighting and garden lights. 

Their low power consumption also makes them cheaper. Let's do some sums. Traditional traffic lights contain incandescent halogen bulbs of between 50 and 150 watts. So, if a traffic light uses 100-watt bulbs and the light is on 24 hours a day, it uses 2.4 kilowatt hours (kwh) a day. If the local council buys electricity at $0.08/kwh, then one traffic signal costs about $0.20 a day, or about $73 per year. If each intersection has eight signals, then that's almost $600 per year in power per intersection. A big city has thousands of intersections, so it can cost millions of dollars just to power all these traffic lights. LED lights consume 15 or 20 watts instead of 100 watts, so the power consumption drops by a factor of five or six.  In conclusion, a city may well save over one million dollars a year in electricity, just by replacing all of the bulbs in traffic lights to LED units. Now also add savings by using LEDs in all streetlights.  Then add to all this the huge savings in the labor cost of replacing light bulbs, given the longer life span of LEDs. 

Importantly, their low power consumption also enables LEDs to be more easily powered by solar panels. Instead of running electric cables to each streetlight and traffic lights, solar power can save even more money and is especially attractive in more remote locations. This makes LEDs important contributors to development of solar panels. 

Finally, each traffic light contains multiple LEDs, enabling applications such as countdowns of the number of seconds before lights change, by triggering patterns of LEDs. For indoor use, application of LEDs have been mainly in downlights and spotlights. Predictions are, though, that LEDs will soon become the dominant replacement for incandescent light bulbs everywhere.

When used in traffic lights, LED lights may do not generate the heat that is needed to melt snow off of them when they are covered, but changes in design could help. A rim at the top of a traffic light and no rim underneath can reduce build-up of snow. A flashing bright white ring can be fitted around the red light, switching on during snowy weather conditions. In particularly dangerous locations, such rings are already installed, operating permanently. In cases of persistent snow problems, window wipers could also be fitted, which would still work out to save energy. 

When there's heavy snow, there's always a chance of snow build-up on traffic lights; it's just that the snow may take longer to melt off in case of LEDs. Drivers know they should treat a traffic signal with obstructed lights as a stop sign, similar as if the power is out. If in doubt whether the light is on or off, one should err on the side of caution. LEDs' longer lifetime makes that there's less chance of malfunction, thus making them safer. LEDs are also more visible in bright sun light, further adding to make them safer.

OLEDs look very promising indeed, but they don't look ready yet to replace incandescent light bulbs at the same scale as CFLs and LEDs, and we should really get rid of incandescent light bulbs as soon as possible. 

Commercial development of OLED technology also seems to be held back by companies that own important patents on OLEDs. In my view, we need legislation (perhaps as part of anti-trust and cartel legislation) to avoid such practices. Government needs to facilitate rapid development of such technologies, for the sake of reducing emissions, rather than to protect those who seek to hold back such developments.

According to the d.light website, some 1.6 billion people around the world are without electricity and use kerosene lanterns for light, which cause thousands of fires and burns each year, release CO2 and their air pollution causes acute lower respiratory infections, one of the biggest killers among children under 5 in India. They could be helped with the combination of LED lights, rechargeable batteries and solar panels or wind turbines.

Above some photos of LED Tubes, for more details, visit: 

The European Union has just banned manufacture and import of 100-watt and frosted incandescent light bulbs (since September 1, 2009). Shops will no longer be allowed to buy or import such bulbs, but they can continue selling them until they run out of stock. Other incandescent bulbs will be phased out over three years starting this year. On September 1, 2010, 75-watt bulbs will be phased out and all should have disappeared from European shops by September 1, 2012. Halogen bulbs will be phased out by 2016. Beyond 2016, shops may only sell bulbs with an 'A' or a 'B' energy rating. 

In February 2009, NXP Semiconductors, founded by Philips, launched the SSL2101, an integrated dimmable mains LED driver. The SSL2101 is for sale fora few dollars each. It can be used in lighting systems such as LED retro-fit lamps, LED modules, LED spots, down-lights and LED strings for retail displays, as Reuters reports.

On the right a few LED lights that are for sale now. At the top, thefully dimmable Synergy 4W LED MR-16 by Ushio, allowing you to directly replace 20-25W halogen MR-16s. Note that they may not work with AC integral transformers due to low power consumption. They are for sale at Amazon.com for $48.99 + $5.62 shipping. Life expectancy: 50,000 hours.

Underneath, a 3W G45 LED Bulb - replaces a 25W incandescent bulb. Life: 50,000 hours, Edison base. For sale with Polar-ray.com for $22.-. Input Voltage: 120V.

At the bottom, a 3W LED Decorative Bulb - replaces 30W incandescent bulb. Life: 50,000 hours, Edison base. For sale with Polar-ray.com for $17.50. Input Voltage: 120V.

Hi Baby J. LEDlight.com sells the LED T12 T8 Tube Light (pictured left). It comes in a 4 foot, 300 LEDs, 7 Watt version at $74.99 and in a two foot, 150 LEDs, 15W version that costs $49.99. 

It replaces a standard fluorescent tube light. It plugs directly into fluorescent 2 prong receptacle replacing standard F40T12 lamps. 

Another advantage of LED tubes is that there is no turn on wait for the tube lights. Instant on/off adds to convenience. Plastic tube housing is also safer. Lasts 5 years. Humidity/moisture resistant. Available in white 6000 Kelvin and daylight white 4100 Kelvin color temperature. The 15Watt version is comparable to a 40W fluorescent. The operating temperature is 100 degrees. 

Remove existing ballast. Since you remove the ballast, you save even more energy costs as well as replacement costs. You can order them atLEDlight.com. There's a video with installation instructions at Youtube

I think these LED tubes are great, not only do you save a lot of energy and maintenance time and worries, I think it's safer too. Much is said about mercury, but there's also the risk that a fluorescent tube breaks and the glass causes shrapnel injuries, along with the release of mercury and other hazardous compounds. If cut with fluorescent lamp glass, any phosphor that gets into the wound is likely to prevent blood clotting and will interfere with healing [source]. 

Furthermore, the ballast can overheat, which is a fire hazard, which can in turn cause fumes. With LED tubes, there's a lot less to worry about.

Panasonic now supplies a range of LED lights. Lights are available in "Daylight" and warm "Lamp" colors. The lights went on sale in Japan on October 21, 2009. 

Screw type LED lights come in standard and compact size. The 7.6 W standard-size E26 is comparable to a 60 W incandescent and has a lifespan of up to 40,000 hours, which means it will last for about 19 years when used for 5.5 hours a day. The smaller 4 W E17 is comparable to a 40 W incandescent and has about 20,000 hour life span. Both are dimmable down to 10%. 

The standard light is expected to cost 4000 yen (about $44, as at December 27, 2009), which will save the consumer money in the end, given that they last 40 times longer than and consuming only one eights of the power of comparable incandescent light bulbs. Furthermore, they avoid having to change lights more frequently.

Above photo below was taken at the Panasonic booth at Eco-Products 2009

At the Eco 2009 Panasonic also displayed power points that accommodate both AC and DC devices (bottom left respectively top left on above photo). The LED lights, fans and electronic devices such as PCs, game consoles, TVs and audio equipment could all run on DC electricity.

Rooftop solar PV panels produce DC electricity and this DC electricity could run these devices directly, without AC/DC conversions.Panasonic also displayed a battery system (photo left) at Eco 2009 that could save the electricity from the PV panels and release it to these devices on demand, all in DC. The battery could double as a power source for electric vehicles or industrial vehicles.

Sharp has announced a LED street light(photo left) equipped with a solar battery, which means that no wiring or remote power supply is needed for these street lights. 

The lamp provides a luminance of 1,800lm, among the highest in the industry, according to Sharp. This is partly the result of a special lens (photo right) mounted on each LED chip. The lens is composed of convex lenses that are stacked on concave lenses. 

The convex lenses focus the light, while the concave lenses widen the light along the length of the street. 

As a result, the solar-powered LED street lights can be installed at an interval of 32m, compared to conventional street lights that require a 40W bulb and need to be installed at a distance of 12m apart.

Those who want a more traditional look should consider the Sylvania LED Retrofit Lamps. 

The 8 watts lamp on the left replaces 40W incandescent Aline light-bulbs and can be bought online

While its $40 price constitutes a higher upfront cost, it lasts 16 times longer than incandescent light-bulbs, so dividing that $40 by 16 would make it price-competitive with a $0.25 incandescent. Additionally, the LED reduces energy consumption up to 80%, so when adding the savings in the cost of electricity, maintenance and replacement, the LED clearly is more economic over its lifetime. 

A 12 watts lamp, to replace the standard 60-watt incandescent light-bulb, will be introduced in August, reports the New York Times, while adding that a phase-out of incandescents mandated by the federal government will start next year with the 100-watt model, to works its way down to the smaller bulbs in 2014.

The Home Depot sells the EcoSmart LED A19 Light Bulb for $19.97 online, with sales in shops to follow next month

The website gives the following details for the LED light: 
- Light Output: 429 Lumens 
- 8.6 Watt (40 Watt Equivalent)
- 120 Volts
- 5 year warranty
- Estimated savings of $200 per bulb over the life
- Dimmable - please reference approved dimmer list
- Last 46 years (Average Life: 50,000 hours)
- Actual Color Temperature (K) : 3032 K

LEDs make excellent gifts. It can be pretty hard to replace a tiny light bulb in a fridge. It can be hard even finding where the light bulb is, getting it out and figuring out where to buy a new one. 

Did you get any gifts? I was exploring websites for gadgets, in particular LED torches. I found a 3 LED light torch that also has a keychain and a solar panel, for under $10. 

I love the LED torches that can be recharged by winding a crank handle. Some of them also have a radio and a siren and flashing lights for emergencies. Some of them can also recharge mobile devices such as phones, photo cameras and MP3 players. 

One LED torch I saw also produces a sound that acts as a mosquito repellent. The description says it imitates the sound of dragonfly, male mosquito or bat to repel mosquitoes. I'm not sure how well all these gadgets work, but I do love the LED torches.

Starting January 1, 2012, energy efficiency standards will require new light bulbs to use 25% to 30% less energy.

The recently-approved omnibus spending bill contains a rider that gives incandescent light bulbs a temporary reprieve, by pulling the funding to enforce the rules until October 2012. 

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), representing more than 95% of the U.S. lighting manufacturing industry, issued a press releasestating that it did not support the inclusion of this rider, and remains committed to and supportive of the lighting standards.

LEDs can contain rare-earth elements that may become difficult to obtain in case of mass-scale manufacture of LED lights. Hirokazu Masai and colleagues from Kyoto University have now developed LEDs that contains no rare-earth elements. 

For more details, see Nature.

Above photo-compilation shows how much energy savings you can make by replacing your lights by LEds. 

The 10-watt lightbulb on the right is the winner of the U.S. Department of Energy's Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize) competition for a 60 Watt equivalent. 

The bulb won the prize after successfully completing 18 months of tests รข€“ ensuring that performance, quality, lifetime, cost, and availability meet expectations for widespread adoption and mass manufacturing. 

The L Prize required entrants to have a useful lifetime of more than 25,000 hours, compared with 1,000 to 3,000 hours for incandescent lightbulbs. Philips actually expects the bulb to last 30,000 hours  depending on how many hours you'll have it on daily, and if you don't drop it, it may last 10 years or more.

The LED-bulb is expected to cost $50 when it apopears in shops in 2012, and prices are expected to fall with mass-scale manufacture. 

Utilities can offer rebates, e.g. Pepco offers Maryland customers $10 incentive per bulb. Most rebates are much lower, though, e.g. in Virginia, Dominion Power has proposed to give consumers a discount of $1.41 per bulb, which isn't going to make much of a dent in a $50 price tag. 

What may be more effective in achieving the shift is the legislation signed by President George W. Bush in 2007 to introduce a ban on inefficient light bulbs, starting with 100-watt bulbs this year. Next year, 75-watt will follow, and 60-watt incandescents will go after that.

In case you've got trouble doing the math with the $50 upfront price of the above lightbulb, it should last for as long as 30 incandescent bulbs at $1 each, while using $30 for 300 kWh of electricity, versus $180 for 1800 kWh electricity for incandescents, as shown on the image below, courtesy of ThinkProgress Green.

In fact, the price advantage of the LED light is even more striking, since the electricity costs are based on $0.10/kWh of electricity whereas today's average retail price is $0.12 and this price can only be expected to rise over the years, while the LED bulb can be expected to get cheaper when manufactured in mass quantities.

One problem with compact fluorescent lights (CFL) is that they contain mercury. In Germany, research led by Holger Heuermann and Rainer Kling has producedlightbulbs with minimal amounts of mercury. Their pioneering lightbulb innovation was presented at Light+Building 2012, which was held this month in Frankfurt, Germany. 

The electrode operation of these lights takes place outside the flask of the bulb. This means that in production conventional electrodes can be dispensed with, which in turn considerably lowers manufacturing costs. Since there are no electrodes present within the gas-discharge chamber there can be no possibility of electrode combustion and there is greater freedom with regard to the choice of filler. Moreover, electrode-free bulbs generally have extremely long lifespans. When used for an average of 3 hours per day, the bulb can be expected to last for over 27 years. 

The lights have a high luminance, good colour rendering, agreeable light hues as well as being dimmable. Furthermore they possess particularly good start-up properties. 

The current stage of development is such that for a mains power consumption of 19 W the amount of Hg required already lies at < 10 ?g/bulb in order to produce around 840 lm of luminous flux. This currently already corresponds to an effective light yield of ca. 45 lm/W making it suitable as a replacement for a 75 W incandescent light bulb. The current quantity of mercury which is still necessary of 0.01 mg Hg/bulb corresponds to a factor of 0.002 of the permissible and in most cases industrially administered quantity of Hg/bulb. 

Developmental goal for 2012/13: smaller size and mercury-free 800 lm/12 W.