Looming energy (electrical) crisis these days, because of less supply of coal to the thermal power plants, has led to a situation – where we need to be very careful as far as consumption of electric power is concerned. Around twenty/ twenty-five years back, in India, we used to say that 1 unit of power saved is equal to 1 unit of power generated. However, with passage of time, the scenario has changed a lot. Today, literally, it’s going to be 1 unit of power saved is equal to 1.5 units of power generated.
However, arrival of many new electrical gadgets at home, development of multiple electricity-driven machinery for replacing manual works in factories, and increase in the use of electricity in the transportation industry et al have heavily raised the demand of energy at all sectors. Under such circumstances, naturally the question arises whether lighting sector can do anything to mitigate the load of the Indian power sector.
In India, lighting constitutes around 18% of total energy developed. Definitely, this sector can do a lot to fight back the crisis. Indian government has been doing a lot to introduce LED lamps, which consume 85% less energy than incandescent lamps and 50% less energy than CFLs to produce the same amount of illumination. However, the citizens also have to come forward to accept the LED technology. Those consumers, especially in urban areas (where awareness level is high), who are not yet using LED-based lamps have to come forward to use these energy saving products. LEDs can be controlled automatically and efficiently by a digital input signal.
However, now it is not only the use of LED-based luminaires, the technology has evolved further. As a major portion of our total lighting operations is still dependent on the manual switching systems, a fairly good amount of energy is wasted in this sector.
Thus, it is high time to introduce automation in a big way in the lighting sector. There are different kinds of lighting sensors that can be used to reduce energy consumption in lighting. Several Indian companies are now rolling out their products that may be adopted based on application needs.
Smart Lighting Systems
To describe in the simplest possible way, a smart lighting system is the use of ultra-modern technologies to remotely control illumination at different points of use automatically or with very less amount of human intervention. The words ‘ultra-modern technologies’ include apps, software, sensors, smart LED lamps etc. It also helps eliminating or reducing the number of traditional wall switches.
There are different kinds of sensors available for lighting control, which may be used as per application requirements.
- Motion sensor: A motion sensor attached to an LED light switches the lamp on when any motion is detected. They may be fixed on walls, ceilings, or entry points.
- Occupancy sensor: It helps in turning off the light when no one occupies a room. By its action, the light gets on when someone enters the room.
- Daylight integrator: Generally, in many offices, even during the daytime, electric lamps are kept on when enough amount of sunlight is available outside. Thus, efforts must be put to give maximum to sunlight. Besides saving energy cost, it helps in releasing greater levels of serotonin in the human body. Serotonin is a chemical that carries messages between nerve cells in the brain and throughout the human body. It influences several body functions such as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire.
A light sensor can accurately detect the intensity of the available daylight. When it is integrated with a micro controller, it can easily control the internal artificial lights’ intensities as per requirements.
Global Market for Lighting Control Systems
According to a recent report from ResearchAndMarkets, global lighting control systems market is expanding at a CAGR of 14.2% during the forecast period from 2021 to 2029. The growth of this market is mainly credited to the increasing awareness about energy conservation worldwide. Efficient lighting is undervalued as a tool to achieve substantial energy savings. Reducing energy consumption is the key factor in attaining energy sustainability objectives. As a result, controlling light is now one of the utmost needs for minimizing energy costs. When planning an energy efficient lighting installation, lighting control systems play a vital role and can help minimize energy consumption by up to 80%. Reducing or eliminating the use of electric light that is not required can save up to 30% of lighting energy costs and over 10% of total building energy costs.
Lighting control systems not only enable the lighting to be adjusted to suit the visual requirements but also allow it to shape and interpret the architecture. These systems assist in controlling lights through dimmers, sensors and timers and help adjust the power consumption in a room to its usage, while optimizing the economic efficiency of a lighting system. It has an ability to regulate the quality and level of light in a given space for precise situations or tasks. Controlling light appropriately not only enhances the experience, but also helps saving energy by using light where and when needed the most.
Rising demand for smart and better lighting infrastructure is another factor contributing towards the market growth. Smart lighting infrastructure provides assistance in sensing movement and number of people in the immediate vicinity, and then adjusts lights accordingly. Thus, development of smart lighting infrastructures likely to enhance further the growth of lighting control systems market.
Earlier I mentioned that in urban areas, where the awareness level is high, complete transformation to LED lighting is very essential. Formerly price was a deterrent factor, but with active impetus from our union government, now the situation has drastically changed. However, still at many places, old CFL lights are visible, which is primarily due to lack of interest in switching over to the new technology.
Also, as lighting consumes only around 11% of the total energy used in an average Indian building, the focus is primarily on energy guzzling appliances, where the logic of saving in operational cost of lighting is yet to penetrate. The economics of replacement cost versus saving annuity needs to be disseminated in a more detailed way.
Contextually, in 2020, the Government of Kerala decided to ban sale of CFLs and filament bulbs in the state. However, still there is no move in other states, which is very essential at this point of crisis.
Hopefully, IEA’s (International Energy Agency’s) report (published in November 2021) states, “2021 saw progress both in terms of LED deployment and lighting efficiency gains. Over 50% of buildings sector lighting markets globally are covered by LEDs. While numerous countries began to phase out incandescent lamps more than ten years ago, many are now beginning to eliminate fluorescent lighting to make LEDs the main technology.”
The report also states, “Although most advanced markets have introduced new regulations mandating the exclusive sale of high-efficacy LED lamps, progress in this area must be sustained to ensure that all countries sell only LEDs by 2025, in line with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.” Let us wait and watch what happens in India…