I’m sure you’re all familiar with LEDs – like the little red light on the front of your TV. But now, “solid state lighting”, based on the same technology, can be used to illuminate or decorate your home or office: making everyday lighting greener (or whatever colour you want ), easier to control, and better quality.
And today I got the chance to see how that works in practice, as we try out an innovative LED lighting installation right here in the Commission’s own Brussels headquarters.
There are lots of good reasons why this technology could be the future of lighting. Solid-state lighting is more efficient than old-style tungsten bulbs—saving money and carbon emissions. But it’s also more versatile and controllable — our installation here, for example, changes colours and effects when people walk by! Plus, the better quality of light makes a real difference — when it’s used in classrooms, for example, you see a noticeable boost in educational outcomes.
And if that wasn’t enough, LEDs could one day help fast broadband. Many of us these days use WiFi for fast, convenient broadband connections. But EU research programmes are now looking at solutions that also use visible or infrared light, not just radio waves – to potentially transmit wireless broadband at speeds up to one Gigabit.
These days you can buy LED bulbs that fit into a normal household light socket – but there’s also a huge variety of innovative and creative ways you can use LED beyond that, as I saw today! So no wonder this market is taking off.
This matters for Europe. The lighting industry here in Europe is pioneering, innovative, and world-class: with an annual turnover of 20 billion euros, and employing 150,000 people (including several thousand small and medium-sized companies). As it stands in Europe, solid state lighting is only about one eighth of that market: several studies predict that figure could grow to over 70% by 2020.
We in the Commission want to promote LED technology and see it more widely and quickly deployed: as we set out in our Green Paper “Lighting the Future”, just over one year ago. That exercise showed that, despite the opportunities of this technology, people see a risk buying products of unproven or insufficient quality; users don’t have enough information; and the high initial cost can deter some people. I hope we can overcome these issues; we need to raise awareness of the great benefits of LED Lighting.
The project here in Commission Headquarters (known as “Shapes of Light”) was sponsored by European company Schreder, after an open call for sponsors we launched in March. So no cost to you as taxpayers. It was developed in Italy and assembled here in Belgium, it’s a great example of the potential of this technology, and we’ll be enjoying it for the next 12 months: but I also hope that over the coming year, LED lighting will be coming to a place near you!