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CEO shines a light on energy savings with LEDs

MUNICH, Germany — The integration of intelligence with LED technology will result a greater significant energy savings for a range of lighting applications, an industry executive said during the Electronica 2008 exhibition here.

Dr. Ruediger Mueller, CEO of Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH, said LED technology has the potential to reduce light energy consumption by 30 percent. That means total energy consumption could be cut by 50 percent.

“Light is a major consumer of our energy today,” Mueller said during a CEO panel here on Tuesday (Nov. 11). “It is estimated that 19 percent of worldwide electricity is used for lightning. The LED technology can help reduce light energy consumption by 30 percent; and by [adding] some intelligence, it goes to 50 percent.”

Overall LED efficiency has improved by a factor of 50 percent, Mueller continued. “The LED technology will overtake the other classical technologies. Light is not needed at constant level, but at several levels, and by doing this we can save quite a lot.”

In the course of the CEO debate, panelists were asked if added functionality and resulting power consumption was in contradiction to their claims of energy efficiency.

Rich Beyer, Freescale's chairman and CEO, predicted a much better balance in the future, adding that the semiconductor industry could meet growing energy efficiency requirement s by progressively replacing mechanical parts with electronic components. “We will move from mechanical to electronic functionality, and this will reduce the cost significantly,” Beyer said.

Mueller noted that LEDs are a semiconductor technology, and that scaling will result in lower prices for LEDs. “We are looking forward to going to larger wafer sizing. The cost competitiveness will no longer be an obstacle in the next few years,” he predicted.

Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics NV, added: “We started to quantify the impact [of energy efficiency] in 1995. The overall investment at ST amounted to about $300 million. The net return on this investment has exceeded $1 billion. So there is no doubt about cost effectiveness.”

Moving to the social aspect of the subject, panelists outlined that our society is seeing more and more that energy savings is no longer a luxury.

Mueller stressed the growth of architectural lighting in emerging markets like Shanghai, China, adding that consumers still need to be educated. He underscored the situation with a question: “Is all the energy that we are consuming today really needed?”

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